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Restaurants that have never changed

Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 05:05 AM

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?


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  1. crazyspice RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 05:21 AM

    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
      Chefpaulo RE: crazyspice Jan 24, 2010 05:02 AM

      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!)


      1. re: crazyspice
        gtnsteve RE: crazyspice Feb 10, 2010 12:20 PM

        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
          crazyspice RE: gtnsteve Feb 10, 2010 01:26 PM

          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
            Philly Ray RE: crazyspice Feb 10, 2010 01:29 PM

            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
              crazyspice RE: Philly Ray Feb 10, 2010 05:00 PM

              Indeed! Do you remember Lillian on the hearth?

              1. re: crazyspice
                Philly Ray RE: crazyspice Feb 10, 2010 07:45 PM

                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
            Chefpaulo RE: gtnsteve Feb 10, 2010 02:30 PM

            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.

            1. re: Chefpaulo
              crazyspice RE: Chefpaulo Feb 10, 2010 05:01 PM

              Definitely imitation bacon bits!

        2. bucksguy14 RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 05:38 AM

          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. d
            daisygirl RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 08:03 AM

            I nominate the Towne House in Media.

            Towne House Restaurant
            117 Veterans Sq, Media, PA 19063

            1 Reply
            1. re: daisygirl
              bucksguy14 RE: daisygirl Jan 23, 2010 08:43 AM

              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. Seeker19104 RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 09:01 AM

              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
                Mawrter RE: Seeker19104 Jan 26, 2010 07:45 AM

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

              2. g
                givemecarbs RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 11:19 AM

                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
                  Mawrter RE: givemecarbs Jan 26, 2010 07:46 AM

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

                2. b
                  Bigley9 RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 01:07 PM

                  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. m
                    Meann RE: Chefpaulo Jan 23, 2010 01:10 PM

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

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Meann
                      Bashful3 RE: Meann Jan 23, 2010 02:27 PM

                      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
                        gtnsteve RE: Bashful3 Feb 10, 2010 12:26 PM

                        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. s
                      seagulls1 RE: Chefpaulo Jan 24, 2010 05:54 PM

                      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
                        monchichi RE: seagulls1 Jan 24, 2010 07:24 PM

                        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. h
                        hoffam RE: Chefpaulo Jan 25, 2010 04:46 AM

                        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
                          barryg RE: hoffam Jan 25, 2010 06:23 AM

                          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. p
                          phungi RE: Chefpaulo Jan 25, 2010 06:38 AM

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

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: phungi
                            jfr RE: phungi Jan 25, 2010 10:17 AM

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

                            1. re: jfr
                              mazza3 RE: jfr Feb 3, 2010 08:28 AM

                              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
                                givemecarbs RE: mazza3 Feb 9, 2010 01:20 AM

                                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
                                  Bigley9 RE: givemecarbs Feb 10, 2010 07:29 AM

                                  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. c
                            Chefpaulo RE: Chefpaulo Jan 25, 2010 07:24 AM

                            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.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Chefpaulo
                              givemecarbs RE: Chefpaulo Jan 25, 2010 11:20 AM

                              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
                                bucksguy14 RE: Chefpaulo Jan 26, 2010 11:31 AM

                                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. FriskLamb RE: Chefpaulo Jan 25, 2010 06:17 PM

                                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
                                  Den RE: FriskLamb Jan 27, 2010 06:18 AM

                                  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. h
                                  hoffam RE: Chefpaulo Jan 26, 2010 05:38 AM

                                  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
                                    givemecarbs RE: hoffam Jan 26, 2010 11:40 AM

                                    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
                                      truffles2 RE: hoffam Jan 26, 2010 11:57 AM

                                      Don't forget William Penn Inn in Montgomery County

                                      1. re: truffles2
                                        givemecarbs RE: truffles2 Jan 26, 2010 07:15 PM

                                        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
                                          Chefpaulo RE: givemecarbs Jan 28, 2010 07:59 AM

                                          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.


                                    2. Den RE: Chefpaulo Jan 27, 2010 06:19 AM

                                      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
                                        Chefpaulo RE: Den Jan 27, 2010 02:32 PM

                                        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!


                                      2. b
                                        Bob Loblaw RE: Chefpaulo Jan 27, 2010 12:42 PM

                                        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
                                          JanePond RE: Bob Loblaw Feb 3, 2010 05:50 AM

                                          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. j
                                          jandrewmanne RE: Chefpaulo Feb 3, 2010 06:08 AM

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

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