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Rockford once had a Lums Restaurant at 4578 Harrison Avenue in the Alpine Village Shopping Center. This locally owned franchise restaurant was Famous for Hot Dogs steamed in beer and home of the famous Lumburger. The restaurant caught on fire in the early morning hours of September 25, 1975 and was totally destroyed. The owner died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. Later rebuilt by different owners and re-opened as Dirk & Bunnies Lums with Reruns Lounge, changing the name to just Reruns later and has since changed hands as well as names but is still in operation.
Mr. Steak was an American steak house restaurant chain started in 1962 by James A. Mather in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The first franchised location which was third in the chain, was opened by Jack Ross, in Rockford at 3415 East State Street on February 9th, 1964. This location was of a free standing design and was built by Joe Triola who suggested a back wall constructed of Loma Stone. (Joe Triola would later become a manager for Mr. Steak.)
A typical interior of a Mr. Steak Restaurant. Based on the Rockford Design
When the executives of Mr. Steak approved of the design of the Rockford location, they liked the design so much that the Loma Stone wall was incorporated in all future Mr. Steak locations. The State Street location was owned by Jack Ross and his wife Bonnie. This location was very successful. Soon to follow was a second and third location in Beloit and at 6023 North Second Street in suburban Loves Park in 1965.
A Dekalb location was soon added and a fifth and final area location at Cherry Vale Mall in the 1970's. The chain operated 278 restaurants throughout the United States at its peak. The corporation went bankrupt in 1987 and all of the local Mr. Steak Restaurants would close shortly thereafter. Imperial Palace of Rockford now occupies the East State location. The former Loves Park location was demolished and an Advance Auto Parts store now occupies that location. The Cherry Vale location was replaced by York Steakhouse, also since closed.
Many Thanks to Jack & Kevin Ross for their contribution to this article.
North Towne Restaurant and Lounge, 3325 North Main Street. Started by Fred and Amelia Corirossi and Gene Cuppini. Sold to Russ & Donna Pirello in 1962, North Towne Manor was in business from 1956 until 1995.
North Towne Restaurant & Lounge
Sabre & Saddle Restaurant
Sabre & Saddle Restaurant, 4416 East State Street. Moving into the former Edge O' Town restaurant space in 1968 closing in 1972. Kai-Tiki Restaurant would open by 1973 and remain there through the 1970's. This would be replaced by a Godfathers Pizza location in the 1980's. The restaurant was later demolished to make room for expansion of a car dealership on the corner of East State Street and Alpine Road.
Barnaby's Pizza - opened a location at 2404 S. Perryville Road in the late 1960's. The exterior was faux Tudor/half-timber with large faux stained glass panels depicting 18th century patrons enjoying the fare within. The interior was also faux Tudor, at least in terms of the exposed beams and brick work. Seating was mostly booths, with a number on each table. You could order from a wide variety of sandwiches and pizzas, drinks came by the glass or the pitcher. Barnaby’s was a haven for high schoolers to gather on Friday nights. Franchesco’s took over the former Barnaby’s restaurant and remianed there until moving farther North on Perryville in 2008. There was a second Barnaby's location at 7019 N. Alpine Road that was opened in the early 1970's and lasted several years before fading into memory.
The Last Straw Ice Cream Parlour and Family Restaurant, 915 South Alpine Road. As an authentic-style soda fountain with an old fashioned Victorian atmosphere, it served first-rate ice cream sundaes , sodas and other confections created by high school age soda jerks. A second, North Town location on 3600 North Main Street was added. This family owned establishment was a popular place to eat and work in the 1970's and 1980's. Now just a memory as both of the restaurants are long gone.
Ponderosa Steak House, was founded by Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese and Charles Kleptz founded Ponderosa in Kokomo, Indiana in 1968 featuring cooked to order steaks, hot baked potato's and a unlimited salad bar. Ponderosa operated three buffet style restaurants locally at 3725 E. State Street in 1973, 6329 N. Second Street in 1974 and at 1201 Sandy Hollow Road in 1975. Ponderosa disappeared from the Rockford landscape in the 1990's.
Ponderosa Steak House
The Last Straw
Henrici's Restaurant, 7801 East State Street. Opened in conjunction with the Henrici's Motor Inn in 1968. Featuring Henrici's Famous Dining Room, a Chicago favorite since 1868 along with a coffee shop and cocktail lounge. See our motel gallery for more information on Henrici's and the Clock Tower Resort.
Sandy's Hamburgers had a Rockford location at 4240 East State Street that opened in the early 1960's. Sandy's was a Midwestern chain that was in direct competition with McDonald's - everyone who bought the 12 cent McDonald's hamburger bought the 10 cent fries. Sandy's market strategy was advertising 10 cent burgers. But the fries were 12 cents! The Rockford location closed in 1973 after the chains 240 stores merged with Hardee's. The building was demolished and a Hardee's was built a few blocks West at 3700 E. State.
Hardee's had several Rockford locations including one at 3700 East State which replaced the Sandy's Hamburgers location at 4240 East State St. after Sandy's and Hardee's merged. Other locations included 3114 11TH St., 2542 S. Alpine Road, 2431 Auburn St., 3555 N. Main St., 7510 East State St., Rockford. 6000 N. Second St., 1550 E. Riverside, Loves Park and 5110 Edgemere Ct., Roscoe. All of the local Hardee's locations were closed by the early 2000's. After several ownership changes and remodeling the State St. location currently houses Johnny Pamcakes. The Roscoe location found re-use as a Burger King
Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken featured fried chicken seasoned with eleven herbs and spices, mashed potatoes and the unique tasting gravy that topped them, the delicious yeast rolls and creamy cole slaw that also accompanied the meal. Several Rockford locations were opened in the 1960's, The first in 1965 at 2328 Charles Street. Others followed later at 3429 North Main Street, 1515 West State Street and 3035 Eleventh Street. Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken was sold to Pepsi Cola's Yum Brands in 1986 and the name shortened to KFC. There are many KFC restaurants in the Rockford area, many co-branded with Long John Silver Seafood Restaurants
Colonal Sanders Recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken
A waitress behind the soda fountain of The Last Straw in 1975. If you are the young lady shown in this picture, we would love to hear from you and the story behind this picture.
Click on the Mr. Steak placemat above for a larger view of their locations. Contributed by Jack & Kevin Ross
George Webb Hamburger Parlor
George Webb Hamburger Parlor was a Milwaukee based hamburger chain and all of their locations today are in Wisconsin but they ventured into Rockford in the 1960's with two locations, one at 517 West State Street and the other at 419 East State Street. Open 23 hours 59 minutes a day, seven days a week, including Sunday.
McDonald's Restaurants arrived in Rockford in 1957 with the first location at 3137 North Main Street which had the distinction of being one of the first 25 McDonald's built. The second McDonald's in Rockford was located at 2715 Charles Street in 1962. You would get out of your car and walk up to the window and place your order. There was no carhops, no inside seating and no drive through window and they featured nine menu items - Hamburger 15 ˘, Cheese burger 19˘, French Fries 19˘, Milk 10˘, Milk Shakes ( Chocolate-Strawberry-Vanilla ) 20˘, Root Beer 10˘, Orangeade 10˘, Coca Cola 10˘ and Coffee 10˘. The burgers were made fresh on a grill and if not sold within 5 minutes they were tossed out and new ones cooked. In 1973 McDonald's added a third location in Rockford at 315 North Alpine Road, by then the chain offered inside seating. It would be 1976 before McDonald's started adding drive through's nationwide to their restaurants. Now there are over 20 locations in the city of Rockford and it's suburbs at present.
McDonald's System Hamburgers
The Last Straw Menu Cover, courtesy of Kelly Sullivan, exclusive rights granted for this image.
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