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Restaurants that have never changed

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First of all, credit goes to Givemecarbs for the idea for this post. The merits of another Italian restaurant taking over the hallowed halls of Rizzo's in Glenside prompted comments about memories of past establishments and the dearth of places still in operation that never seem to change. Now well into my 50's, I had a hard time coming up with even a few. Those that I could recall from Sundays out with parents and grandparents were the Wm. Penn Inn, the Blue Bell Inn, Otto's on 611 and The Pub in Pensauken. I've been to all within the past five years and each is like entering a time warp. While the first three have done some sprucing up, The Pub looks the same as it did in 1960. Are there any other survivors out there that still maintain the ambiance of 30+ years ago?

CP

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  1. I waitressed at The Pub when I was in college. Those were the days at that particular restaurant! Sadly it was sold a number of years ago and I have not ventured over there since.

    8 Replies
    1. re: crazyspice

      No worries, crazyspice. Whoever bought it didn't change a thing. The same 1950's red carpet, the lounge furniture, the salad bar and that brass deposit box where you can leave a coatroom tip for your favorite charity are all still there. Washrooms are kept clean but were never updated. And the menu still has the same items. Remember the hickory smoked shrimp? Go check it out (if you dare negotiate that pernicious traffic circle!)

      CP

      1. re: crazyspice

        Remember the revolutionary salad--the wedge of iceberg lettuce with your choice of dressing (I loved the Russian)? Whoever thought of such an attractive way of presenting empty calories?

        1. re: gtnsteve

          I served many! The Roquefort was definitely the most popular. Then came the salad bar with the zucchini bread! I used to laugh at the people shoving napkins filled with it into their bags.

          1. re: crazyspice

            And the people hovering by the Caesar Salad waiting for a new bowl to come out so they could grab all of the anchovies.

            1. re: Philly Ray

              Indeed! Do you remember Lillian on the hearth?

              1. re: crazyspice

                My experiences at The Pub were mostly part of my childhood. We would go maybe 2-3 times a month (and my dad used to hover by the Caesar Salad and my mom would stuff zucchini bread into her purse).

                Fond memories!

          2. re: gtnsteve

            My fave, especially with bacon bits (or were they Bac-o's?) and croutons. And I was never hesitant to pile on the Russian dressing, until I discovered Roquefort. Empty calories or not, our mom and dad were always pleased to see us eat our salad.
            CP

            1. re: Chefpaulo

              Definitely imitation bacon bits!

        2. The only two places I can think of that fit this category are diners - The R&S in Sellersville and The Melrose in South Philly.

          1. I nominate the Towne House in Media.

            -----
            Towne House Restaurant
            117 Veterans Sq, Media, PA 19063

            1 Reply
            1. re: daisygirl

              You're right about that. I hadn't been to the Towne House in about 25 years, until we went to a wedding reception there about a year ago. It looked exactly the same. And, it's still a pain in the butt trying to find a place to park!

            2. The Warsaw Cafe (on S. 16th Street below Pine) is very much as it was when I discovered it in 1980 when I was selling radio time for WMMR.

              The atmosphere is still Continental, Mamma's in the kitchen, and son is the manager. A City Paper review called it "Cosmopolish."

              Still my go-to spot for a quiet lunch or dinner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Seeker19104

                "Cosmopolish" - best neologism! Love that! :)

              2. Thanks Chefpaulo! I mentioned DeLorenzos in Trenton and the Candlewyck in Buckingham but how could I forget about the R and S Keystone? I'm going to try some of the other places mentioned on this thread. Cosmopolish he he! I used to go to Otto's a long time ago with my mom. One time we had a late lunch and the waitresses had enjoyed their lunch at a table nearby. They were just starting to clear the table when one waitress asked who is going to finish up all this beer? They had a big pitcher that was still half full. A moment later one of the other waitresses sounded the alarm warning them all "he's up early from his nap!" That table got cleaned off Fast!!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: givemecarbs

                  I wonder who "he" was - the boss or a baby?

                2. I think you could add any number of places near the Italian Market - Ralph's, Villa d'Roma for example. Does La Famiglia count or is 1976 to recent to have started?

                  1. Villa di Roma, in the Italian Market, surely? For good or ill.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Meann

                      Neat thread. Been going to Chun Hing, off City AVe, behind what is now Target, and near a supermarket of no great distinction, Monument AVe. I think Same management for the last 40+ years I've been going there; no change in menu, or decor; but prices creep up over the years, even though it is still quite reasonable. What is unusual is their consistency. In all those years I've hardly even had a dish that disappointed; fabulous fried dumplings, pork/turnip soup, and the usual standbys.

                      This is our 'go to' place when I don't feel like cooking.

                      1. re: Bashful3

                        YES, we agree. I have been going to Chun Hing (and taking my friends and wife) since the mid '70s when they were in the first floor of an apartment building down Conshohocken Ave. Same menu, same great hot & sour soup, steamed meat dumplings, etc etc. A few items have disappeared (like cauliflower) and a few specials are not on the menu (Chinese broccoli). After all these years I still don't own a share of stock, but the staff (Heidi, Anita, John) seems to know who I am and suggest my "regular" dishes. I am there every night I can get someone to go with me and many nights solo. Could use a bit more light when I am solo and reading while I dine.

                    2. Austrian Village, Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge - hadn't changed in 40+ years- I haven't been there in the past year - But I'd bet a knockwurst it's 41+ - good consistent comfort food and a beer family place.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: seagulls1

                        I agree with Villa Di Roma, some dinners like Mastori's/Bordentown dinner ...........Seven Stars Inn the same .....Rossi tavern trenton-my fav burger! off the top of my head.......

                      2. Tacconelli's, Blue Bell Inn, Austrian Village, Ralph's, Villa d' Roma, Glenside Pub, China Bowl (Huntington Valley), Oak Lane Diner,Pearl's Oyster Bar...
                        Not all better for the time warp

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hoffam

                          Ha on China Bowl. I haven't though about that place in forever. The same can be said for many Chinese restaurants of that stripe, both in the 'burbs and in the city. Although I have noticed that some of them have added Thai and Japanese influenced items to the menu.

                          Can't agree on Oak Lane which has changed ownership fairly recently and is building an expansion, or renovating or some such.

                        2. I know this is out of Philly-proper, but Tony's Baltimore Grille in AC...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: phungi

                            Thinking of AC, Mama Mott's might fit into this category, too.

                            1. re: jfr

                              the original owners sold mama mott's a while ago and i think it has since closed down. this was definitely sad to me, loved that place.

                              also down the jersey shore way, tuckahoe inn. heh.

                              1. re: mazza3

                                Oooo! Tuckahoe Inn! So nice to know it is still around and hasn't changed. That place will always have a special place in my heart.

                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                  wow - I had many a birthday dinner at the Tuckahoe Inn as a kid (my bday is around labor day and we were always downnashore) Haven't thought of them in many years - might have to make a trip

                          2. I haven't been to the Austrian Village since 1990. Glad its still around. Also, I hit the Century House on 309 about six years ago and the venerable Lum Fong in Jenkintown around 1998. I remember all from childhood and they still look the same.

                            CP

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Chefpaulo

                              Oooo Lum Fong! The very first time I ever had chinese food was there and I enjoyed many a lunch and dinner there. It was the only chinese place around. I was in that area about a year ago and the traffic was insane but I stole a glance up that way. I think the name has changed but a chinese restaurant still exists there. Another place nearby I used to love to go with my mom was the tea room at Wanamaker's. Alas long gone.

                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                I was at the Austrian Village about 2 years ago when a group of friends got together for the first time in about 10 years - it was exactly the same as it was 10 years earlier - I think the same wait staff was serving our tables. I haven't been in the Century House in about 20 years, might have to swing by and remember! And Lum Fong - I think my wife and the rest of the staff in AMH's DR ordered out from there about 2-3 times a week! She still talks about it every now and then. I think Villa Capri in Doylestown is basically the same over the past 25 years or so, although we haven't eaten there in about 6-7 years.

                              2. CISCO's in Flourtown - they have not changed for decades - and the prices seem from a past decade as well.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: FriskLamb

                                  I think it may be 50+ years without a change in the interior. You can still get a great little cheesesteak and 3 short beers for under $10!

                                2. China Bowl- still 1962
                                  Austrian Village-Still the go to place for schnitzal holstein in the area
                                  Lum Fong- sadly gone the way of all. Used to eat there regularly in the early 70's. Replaced by a series of "fusion" asian themes.
                                  Oak Lane Diner-has not really changed, expansion has been on hold for 2 years

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: hoffam

                                    Noooooo! The Lum Fong location has gone fusion? Arghhh. I've got to cherish the ones that haven't changed more. And remind myself that just because a place has been there forever you just never know. I wish I had visited my beloved Lansdale News Agency more. Many a three muskerteer bar and reese's peanut butter cup were purchased there along with stacks of comic books. And Kenny's in Doylestown. My friend would always grab a coke from the machine there to go with her hershey's chocolate bar. Grr, stupid internet! :)

                                    1. re: hoffam

                                      Don't forget William Penn Inn in Montgomery County

                                      1. re: truffles2

                                        Truffles do they bring a complimentary dish of raw veggies including radish roses? Now that is old school. I remember as a kid my dad and I would eat up all the veggies except for the radishes, and pretty soon I'd be so famished from waiting for the adults to finish their cocktails and order the dang food that sure enough I would eat the spicy radishes too. I finally did learn to love them.

                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                          Carbs, yes they do. The relish tray at Wm. Penn Inn has been updated to include a very garlicky aioli that is exquisite. Broccoli and cauliflower florets, and at least one pepperonici are now included.

                                          I remember the standard childhood fare of carrot and celery sticks, radishes, green and black olives and sweet gherkins. My brother and I used to fight over the black olives. Dad used to caution us about spoiling our dinner by eating too many rolls and relish tray items. Somehow, they never did.

                                          CP

                                    2. Although I'm not sure how it survives, Costa Deli at the corner of Bethlehem Pike and Butler in Ambler has to have been there for +/- 60 years.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Den

                                        Yo, Den! When we moved from Glenside to Gypsy Hill Road in 1969, we stopped during one of the trips at Costa's for hoagies and milkshakes. They welcomed us to Ambler. At our address, we were still an RD #1 and feeling very country back then. Thanks for remembering!

                                        CP

                                      2. What about copabanana? that place has been there forever. i never used to go, but when i was there in teh late 90s my mom said it was a lot like she remembered it.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                          Victor's Cafe in South Philly, along with Villa di Roma. Used to be able to say Bookbinders, but it was updated and has now closed. Sigh. It does amaze me that the Pub in Pennsauken has remained the same.

                                        2. Friday Saturday Sunday... simply timeless... has not changed since it opened its doors 36 years ago! Great cozy neighborhood spot!