Monday, February 17, 2020

Restaurant Time - May 1978

Today's photos are from the Mysterious Benefactor, with a continuing look at the mysterious kitchen areas from some of the old park eateries.

This first one is said to be from the Stage Door Cafe, and we see a master chef carefully placing a hamburger into its paper bag (you can just see a stylized "castle and fireworks" design on the bag, I need one of those in my collection! Preferably free of grease and cheese).

The remaining images are from the River Belle Terrace. These young people had to work hard to cook hundreds (thousands?) of meals each day for hungry crowds. A ham steak sits on a plate, while the cook has something on the griddle - maybe some scrambled eggs? The woman in the distance is on the horn to HQ.

This fellow is slicing up tomatoes by the dozen; I can't quite tell if the gizmo near his hands is a specialized slicer for that task. 

This lady is cooking up some eggs, sunny-side up, while wielding a bottle of some sort of vegetable oil (I believe). In the lower right corner, something sits on the griddle - it resembles novelty vomit (or the real thing?), to be honest. Maybe it was a Denver omelette. You can just see the "Oscar Mayer" pin on the woman's shirt.

Mere seconds later, our intrepid photographer fired off another photo!

Nobody said that working in a kitchen was glamorous - this guy is taking freshly-washed trays and stacking them in alphabetical order. I wish we could see if these trays had the River Belle Terrace logo on them - those things show up at auction occasionally, and can fetch $100 and up. 

Thank you, Mysterious Benefactor!


Nanook said...

By the look on her face, that "woman in the distance" looks as if she's talking to her husband/boyfriend - and she's doing-so on a lovely, Western Electric 6-button 'barn phone' (w/dial-!) And you are absolutely correct that the sous chef-? in the third image is using a hand tomato slicer. Restaurants still use them. That "mess on the flattop" certainly does resemble something other than edible goodies...

Thanks to M B for capturing the 'mundane', but important hard work of CM's.

Anonymous said...


I can confirm what Nanook says re. the tomato slicer in the third photo. I used one of those a great deal during my very first job working in fast food. Also, it's not too distant finger maiming cousin the "lemon guillotine" for making lovely slices of lemon for iced tea (think similar medieval contraption, turned 90 degrees, with a spike to hold said lemon and a heavy handle to come down and run the poor, unsuspecting fruit through... also useful for slicing full size tomatoes for the salad bar when cherry tomatoes were unavailable).

re. the fourth and fifth pictures with the lovely 'sunny-side-up' lady... is that a proto-Quasimodo behind her? He has the same bent-over stoop in both photos and is clearly looking over the counter for affirmation in his place in life from his master! :)

What a brilliant set of photos from the Benefactor this cycle. It's always neat to see photos from 'behind the scenes', pretty much anywhere. This set goes to show that how much things change, they really do stay the same if you look deeply enough.

Thanks again and as always for the great photos!

Always looking but rarely posting, AlbinoDragon

TokyoMagic! said...

Eeeewwww! The guy in the first pic is touching the burgers with his bare hands! I hope he washed his hands thoroughly and properly, first! When I worked at Knott's, we inoculated most of the food we served, with the bacteria on our hands. Somehow, people still survived. Or did they? I've noticed that the food service employees at Knott's and DL, now wear food preparers gloves.

If that is a bottle of vegetable oil, the cast member appears to be pouring it over a pan of bacon. Maybe that's how they get the bacon all nice and greasy!

Andrew said...

I can just imagine all of the noise that would be in these scenes: the crashing of pans, the hollering of order changes, not to mention the sizzling grill. Of course, when you're at a fast food restaurant, everyone wants their food, and they want it NOW. You can practically see the mad look in their eyes. Is it different at Disneyland? I don't know...

...Meanwhile, a few yards away, the Mark Twain was quietly steaming around the Rivers of America... ;)

JC Shannon said...

TM, maybe it's a bottle of cognac. One for the guest and two for me. I wonder what some of those kids are doing now. Did they go on to become Iron Chefs? Or maybe titans of industry? We may never know. I'm with Major on the bag art, nothing ruins a great piece of ephemera like burger juice. Thanks Major.

DrGoat said...

Nanook, remember those plastic fake vomits you could get in the back of comic books? That's kind of what that ham omelette on the grill looks like. (Sorry) Of course, I'm sure it tasted yummy.
Great pics from your benefactor. Thanks Major!

zach said...

I concur, it is a tomato slicer. I've seen plenty of cut fingers from one of those because, back in the day, the training consisted of 'Slice these tomatoes on that contraption!' The more thorough training included, 'Careful, it's sharp!' I suppose today there are protective gloves required.

These behind the scenes shots bring back memories from my compulsory time in fast food. It wasn't all bad, I have to say.

I am going to go right now and name my trash can 'Riverbelle Terrace.'

Thanks MB and Major P.


Nanook said...

@ dzacher-

I love your idea about 'personalizing' your trash can with the "Riverbelle Terrace" name. It's so much better than merely writing your address on it, and then placing it at the curb. You'd be the talk of the neighborhood, for sure-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I would assume that in those days a switchboard operator had to put calls through to a specific phone/restaurant, I wonder what would happen if a boyfriend or husband did try to call? And why is it called a “barn phone”? Do little cows live inside it?

AlbinoDragon, it’s the Tomat-O-Matic! Slices, dices, and juliennes. I notice that the CM is carefully transferring the tomato to the metal tray, attempting to keep it as “together” as possible, though I’m not sure why it mattered ultimately. Maybe the fruit stayed in better shape? I know that the one guy looks like Quasimodo, but he is actually good old Igor! I agree with you, it is a real treat to see these rare behind-the-scenes views.

TokyoMagic!, I assume that’s just the way things were done back then, and probably until fairly recently? Bare hands - best not to think about it too much. You can’t have too much grease on breakfast foods, even bacon. I always ask for a side dish of bacon fat to sip on.

Andrew, I would guess that at Disneyland eatery was probably not as noisy as all that; sure there would have to be some clatter, but I’d be willing to bet that hollering was not encouraged. I’ve seen signs at construction zones in the park that say “QUIET!” - even hard-hatted workers had to try to not ruin the good time of paying guests.

Jonathan, maybe it’s “cooking sherry”, you know, like the kind my mom was always sipping on! (I kid, I kid, sorry mom). It really is funny about something as mundane as one of those burger wrappers, I could easily see one in good condition fetching $50 and up on eBay, and that’s WITHOUT the burger!

DrGoat, I guess you look at the pictures and don’t read my text! Not that I blame you.

dzacher, nowadays they have robot tomato slicers, but heaven help us if they ever become sentient. Then their little eyes will glow red as they slowly march forward, slicing everything in their path! (Calling Spielberg….)

Alonzo P Hawk said...

No disrespect, as our lovely blonde cook is probably in her 60's now, but she was a cutie patootie. I'll bet she wasn't making Denver Vomlettes for $2.65 an hour for long after this. Probably a famous Restaurateur now.

Nice backstageish photos today Major thanks.

Anonymous said...

Back in 1978, the Stage Door Cafe was Oaks Tavern. Picked up many a hamburger/fries/coke on lunch going backstage and upstairs to the break area to catch up on the latest gossip. KS

Chuck said...

On my one and only visit to Silver Dollar City, my wife, kids and I were served burgers by a very nice, smiling young woman who was operating solo at an out-of-the-way, walk-up burgery. She was cook, server, and cashier, all in one. She took our money, wished us a great day in the park, then promptly turned around and emptied her stomach into a trash can...and then went back to work.

DrGoat said...

Sorry Major. I guess I read through them too quickly.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I agree with you about it being best not to think about the bacteria situation. Even the food preparers gloves are fool proof, if the wearer doesn't follow certain procedures. I was at a Subway (sandwich shop) a few years back and the person making my sandwich did put the gloves on, but then when she realized that there was no more of the type of cheese I had asked for, she turned around and with the gloves still on, opened several "reach-in" refrigerator compartments behind her. When she realized that what she was looking for wasn't in any of them, she went into the back and touched god-knows-what back there, before returning with a stack of cheese. I wanted to say something, but I just stayed quiet. And look, I'm still around to talk about it today!

dzacher, we had the same type of tomato slicers at Knott's and we received the exact same training! If a tomato sort of got stuck, novices would attempt to get it "unstuck" with their hands and they would end up with some very nasty slices on their fingers.

At Knott's, we did try to keep the sliced tomatoes "together," when putting them into a pan, because it was just neater to do that, and easier to grab slices off the top as you needed them for orders. However, I'm not sure why that guy is placing the sliced tomatoes on their sides. That doesn't seem like it would be very easy to pull out a single slice or two. We always placed them vertically, if you know what I that the slices were parallel to the bottom of the pan.

I think Mr. Quasimodo is the same guy with the reddish-brown hair, who we saw in your January 8th post, earlier this year:

TokyoMagic! said...

I meant, "even the food preparers gloves AREN'T foolproof!"

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the Riverbelle Terrace workers were sick and tired of those Creole Cafe jerks taking their trash can!

Alonzo, I always hope that the people we see in photos have happy, prosperous lives, though I know that’s not realistic. Still… I’d rather imagine a nice story.

KS, the only reason I attributed the photo as the “Stage Door Cafe” was because that’s what the jpeg file was named! I certainly would have had no idea otherwise.

Chuck, I have a batch of photos from Silver Dollar City, I should scan and post those someday. I think they’re from the 70’s. Your story is so weird! Maybe the woman was pregnant? The best part is how she seemed so unphased, as if this was something that happened to everybody all the time. Maybe it DID at Silver Dollar City!

DrGoat, I will somehow find it in my heart to forgive you! ;-)

TokyoMagic!, your first mistake was eating at Subway! I used to eat there once in a while, but it seemed like the food kept getting worse and worse; and then a friend of mine worked at a Subway restaurant. Her description of what they did with their meat and produce made me quit that place forever. I realize that most fast-food places are probably nearly as bad, but what I don’t know won’t hurt me (in theory). I’m also done with Burger King, haven’t eaten there for years. Of course I’m not that snooty, one of my friends thinks I’m insane for ever eating at a Jack In The Box, but I like their tacos. You’d think that a stuck tomato could be poked through with a skewer or a dull knife? Now with today’s technology tomatoes are sliced with lasers, and everything is perfect. And yes, I thought that the guy in the photo was attempting to place the tomatoes in the pan vertically, you can see that’s how they’re arranged in the pan. Do you think that other pan has the unwanted ends of the tomatoes? SO MUCH TOMATO TALK.

Anonymous said...

My time in food service was spent serving and bussing tables, never cooking. Wise to have never trusted me with food preparation.

I have trained and supervised numerous Boy Scouts in their campout meal prep however, and can say with certainty that the human capacity for germ resistance is quite robust, even in these degenerate times. We were very rigorous in clean-up sanitation however, and in my time, no one ever got sick from anything except gluttony. Which happened more than once, often with spectacular results.

I got sick once from a Subway sandwich and never went back. We stopped often at "road food" places on Scout outings since the boys needed inexpensive meals to stay on budget, but Subway and BK were off my list. I stick to In-N-Out.

Major, I desperately wanted one of those plastic "fake vomits" and Mom would not let me buy one. Now that I am old, I no longer want one. I try to teach this concept to younger folks, but it is a hard lesson to foresee one's older self while in youth.

Thank you, and the MB, for these pictures of the hard-working backstage team who are rarely seen, and less often acknowledged for bringing us safe and tasty (if not particularly nutritious) meals, and to everyone for their memories and comments.


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, that incident a few year back at Subway, was the last time I ate there. But now your info will keep me away for good. As for McDonald's, Jack In The Box, Carl's Jr., etc.....I gave up fast food, back when I was still working at Knott's. And I stayed away from it for a couple decades. My brother did talk me into eating at an In 'N Out a few years ago (I had never been to one!), and since then, I will eat there VERY occasionally.

The best thing to do for a stuck tomato or stuck slices, was just what you said....get a knife and poke them through. That just wasn't a part of the official training for using the tomato slicer, because there was no official training for using the tomato slicer! I wonder if today, with OSHA and all, if there has to be written-out procedures for handling such equipment and if employees have to be officially trained and then "signed off" on the equipment?

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I forgot to answer your question about the other pan. I would think that they would have some sort of pan or receptacle to throw the unwanted ends of the tomato into, but that second pan almost looks too organized. I wouldn't think that they would bother with stacking the ends, if they were just going to be thrown away. Maybe they were just doing it for the photographs.

Tomato talk is fun!

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh, and in regards to Andrew's comment about the hollering out of orders, "ADAM AND EVE ON A RAFT.....WRECK 'EM!!!" That was especially for Nanook and Sue!

Chuck said...

Major, my wife thought the poor girl was probably pregnant, too. I was just happy she had the decency to aim her Technicolor yawn away from our meal. Class act all the way.

When I was stationed in SoCal, the Airmen in the unit had a bunch of "cute" names for Jack-in-the-Box. The only ones I can repeat here were "Germ-in-the-Box" and "Yack-in-the-Box." The first two people I knew to get food poisoning at a restaurant were at Jack-in-the-Boxes in CA, 20 years and 500 miles apart, so those nicknames didn't surprise me in the slightest.

Chuck said...

Oh, and yeah - I'd love to see your Silver Dollar City photos!

"Lou and Sue" said...

I am going to go right now and name my trash can 'Riverbelle Terrace.'
dzacher: I read your comment long before I figured out why you said that - that was hilarious!

Oh, and in regards to Andrew's comment about the hollering out of orders, "ADAM AND EVE ON A RAFT.....WRECK 'EM!!!" That was especially for Nanook and Sue!
Nanook, is TokyoMagic! insinuating we're Adam and Eve?! What doe he know, that we don't know?! ;)

Thank you, Major and MB, for more great pictures and laughs (from all)!

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, ha, ha! I don't even know what "Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck them" means! Is it scrambled eggs and toast? I just know that it's diner talk or code. When I first started at Knott's, I told them that I didn't know anything about cooking hamburgers. But then a nice middle-aged blond woman with loose curls, told me, "Oh it's very easy! You just put the hamburger on the grill and when your face turns redder than the meat, IT'S DONE!"

"Lou and Sue" said...

:) TokyoMagic! I'm sure you're right about the [two] scrambled eggs on toast - which sounds good, right now. Of course, I knew you were referring to our beloved Lucy.

Speaking of tomatoes and restaurant lack-of-cleanliness . . . years ago, I ordered a BLT from a coffee shop and bit into a tomato end-slice with its product sticker/label still stuck on. I've found much worse in my restaurant food - but I'll save it for another post.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I could go on and on with my Knott's "food/restaurant stories," but for now, I'll just tell you one. Someone brought back their cup of hot chocolate, because there was a spider swimming around in it! "Hey waiter, what's this spider doing in my hot chocolate?" Well, I'm not sure, but I think it's doing the backstroke!