Schrafft’s began as a candy manufacturer in Boston but over time morphed into a well-known restaurant chain. In 1898 Frank G. Shattuck, a salesman for the Schrafft company from upstate New York, opened a candy store at Broadway and 36th in New York. His sister, Jane Shattuck, was largely responsible for the introduction of light lunches into the stores. The first to serve food was the Syracuse store in 1906 where a “Japanese Tea Room” (shown here) was boldly advertised as “the daintiest luncheon spot in all the State.” By 1909 Jane also introduced meals to the second NYC Schrafft’s, at 54 West 23rd Street in the heart of a thriving shopping district. By 1927, when there were 25 units, most located in NYC, the Wall Street Journal estimated that around 75% of Shattuck’s business was in the restaurant trade, with the rest candy-related.
Schrafft’s was known for reproducing an air of gentility typical of the upper middle-class WASP home. Cooks, supervisors, and even some executives were women. Menus of the 1920s and 1930s included many salads, more desserts than entrees, and non-restaurant-y vegetable selections such as creamed cauliflower and fried eggplant. Frank claimed Schrafft’s cuisine was inspired by his mother’s cooking. Repeated efforts to overcome connotations of a “women’s restaurant” and attract men met with disappointing results despite customers such as James Beard. Women dominated even after some units began to serve cocktails in 1934.
Rent cuts in the depression encouraged chain expansion and by 1937, when Frank died, there were 43 Schrafft’s, most in metro NYC but a few in Boston and Philadelphia. At its peak there were about 50 units in greater NYC. In 1961 the chain played briefly with the idea of selling frozen dinners on the roadside. In the late 1960s the Schrafft’s candy company was sold to Helme Products while Pet, Inc. took over the restaurants. Pet made a renewed effort to renovate Schrafft’s image and attract men. At the Fifth Ave location (between 45th & 46th) the soda fountain was removed and a bar installed. The second floor, men-only dining room was given dark wood paneling, zebra-stripe carpeting, and named “The Male Animal.” The 1970s saw confusion as a Schrafft’s opened in Los Angeles (sporting a Chinese room and an Elizabethan room), new ownership took control, and numerous NYC locations were shut down. In 1981 the candy company ceased while the few restaurants remaining were in various hands.
© Jan Whitaker, 2008
144 responses to “When ladies lunched: Schrafft’s”
I remember going to Schraffts Restaurant in New Rochelle NY in 1955 & 56. It was a restaurant for Special Occasions and wonderful dinners. I went there for a Special Dinner for the Cub Scouts and for a dinner with my parents and luncheons with my Aunt. Those were always a Special Treat for a Little 6 and 7 year old Boy. I remember the restaurant always bustling with the attentive staff rushing around, and the wonderful food. And all the customers dressed up and looking elegant. Going to Schraffts was a Real Treat.
When l cold called my future husband l said: My name is Rosemary Schrafft. He said to himself my ship has come in. A candy heiress. My friends got a kick out of that. They knew him.
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Remember taking my Mother to lunch when at my first job a Hertz Corp. 660 Madison Ave. The decor, white tablecloth, formally dressed waitresses made an impression on her. I had some kind of cocktail to show how grown up I was. She didn’t drink but I ordered her a sherry anyhow. She was happy to see I worked in a nice office and area. Wish I had spent more time with her so many years ago.
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I ate with my mom at Schrafft’s many times, my clearest memory was at the one across from Lord and Taylors. A little old lady in a Chanel type suit sat next to us, I heard her gargling – she was downing her 3rd martini! Scared the sh-t out of me at about 12? years old. All 90lbs of her staggered out absolutely hammered. She had left the check on table which my mom told me to bring to her, I refused.
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In the mid sixties I worked at Macmillan Publishing Co. on Fifth Ave and 12th St right across from Schrafft’s. Every morning they wheeled carts of coffee and pastries to us for coffee break; they wore their uniforms and, I believe, brought cups and saucers — no styrofoam then! It’s such a vivid memory and yet sometimes I don’t trust it — seems more like something from the 19th century than the 20th! Delicious Schrafft’s coffee breaks — I think we really didn’t start our work day until we’d hear those carts rolling in :-).
How wonderful! Those days are gone, gone, gone.
Was there a Schraffts in Cross County Shopping Center?
Unknown, unless a reader can answer your question — about a Yonkers shopping center. There is no complete list of Schrafft’s locations that I know of.
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I recently watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Is the paper takeout bag that Audrey Hepburn is carrying in the opening scene from Schrafft’s? The one that holds her coffee and pastry? It’s white with a blue panel on it.
Impossible to say for sure. The shade of blue on the bag is very similar to one used on the company’s ice cream packaging in the 1960s. The blue was the lower half of the background for a red crest-style logo that the company used for years. In the book When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s (by Joan Kanel Slomanson) there is a section on “Schrafft’s and Show Biz” where a number of movies in which Schrafft’s figures are mentioned but Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not one of them. Then, the next chapter, titled Breakfast at Schrafft’s, has a subhead “The Tiffany of Morning Dining Spots” but once again there is no mention of the movie. Frustrating!
Schrafft’s provided the catering for the film. The direction we received was money was to be no object keeping the cast and crew happy. That is a Schrafft’s “pinking shear” bag, and a Schrafft’s coffee cup. Please visit us on FB. I hope the author of Restauranting Through History can forgive our heavy use of their verbiage. Please like, share and follow us for more Schrafft’s news.
My family called Schrafft’s the “family business”. My brothers, cousins and myself all work at various stores through our high school and college years. We had an Aunt, my Mother’s sister, who was an Assistant Manager at the West 57 Street store. Schrafft’s loved to hire family of employees. I worked at the candy counter at 48 Broad St in summers when I was in high school and the Madison Ave store on Saturdays during the school year.(ate lots of fudge) Then when I was 18, I became a waitress at the W.57 St store. My Aunt would always try to give me the “best” customers, meaning those who tipped the best. W 57 St. had a Men’s Grill. One of the Men’s Grill waitresses would always announce to the kitchen, “The Mara boys are here.” at lunch. It was only years later, that I learned that the “Mara boys” were the owners of the NY Giants. We had lots of TV actors and actresses who dined at W57 St because several theatrical agents were housed in the adjoining building. Betsy Palmer was a frequent diner. Also, the Art Students League was across 57 Street, and Gloria Vanderbilt, who was a student there at the time, would come into the Grill in the middle afternoon, when the Grill was quiet.
Schrafft’s catered to their regular customers, almost as if they were family. We addressed all their idiosyncrasies without question. Who orders a Martini with a cherry? Who gets their butterscotch cookie placed on the table before ordering lunch?
I loved working there. The management was fair, the experienced waitresses were encouraging, the kitchen staff were fun and helpful, the customers were appreciative of your hard work. I loved the food: hot butterscotch sundaes with almonds, leg of lamb with mint jelly, home style chicken salad, Swedish meatballs with rice and green peas, chicken pot pie, club sandwiches, and cheese bread!
There was one incident which I remember. During the summer of 1964, the New York World’s Fair was running. I was waiting on a family of 6 who told me that they were from Minnesota and came for the Fair. They were asking for suggestions of other things to do while in NYC. During the course of me serving them, a lot of conversation ensued. Long story short, when they were leaving they thanked profusely for the great service and multiple suggestions for activities and left a 25 cent tip! Even in 1964, 25 cents was a stingy tip for dinner for 6 people. LOL.
Sometimes I would sent to one of the corporate dining rooms at lunch. Sometimes I worked at the 72St and Madison Ave store on Sundays. Bobby Kennedy and his brood came in several times and got the whole staff hopping. I worked in New Rochelle for Thanksgiving one year. Schrafft’s provided quality food and service to its customers and afforded its employees opportunities in many locations, 7 days a week. Good memories.
Fascinating —thank you!!
This is the best account of Schrafft’s back in the day I have ever read. Our family were regulars on the upper east side. I have such happy memories being taken there as a child. It seemed people really were able to enjoy life in a gracious manner, unlike today. That gracious era is gone. But we are so lucky to have known Schraffts!
I’m so glad you mentioned the cheese bread! Our standard order, me and Mommy, was Chicken Salad on toasted cheese bread with lettuce. Out of this world. I remember our favorite ice cream soda was the chocolate mint ice cream soda made w chocolate ice cream, my absolute favorite! Back then, ice cream sodas were very popular whereas today they seem to have gone out of fashion.
And the hot fudge sundaes were the best I’ve ever had. Nothing compares. The hot fudge was so thick and gooey …remember? Absolutely A PLUS PLUS as my mother would say.
These are very happy memories for me. I didn’t have too many of those, so Schraffts remains a treasure to look back upon.
Thank you for painting yours so vividly. I loved every word.
I loved reading about your experiences. I just couldn’t help but notice you concluded with “The management was fair.” How could it be fair when they practised nepotism? (giving family the best customers) Just pointing this out not in criticism but to highlight how perceptions of “Fair” seem to be very coloured by a persons advantage.
I love the scene in Auntie Mame in which her nephew’s obnoxious spoiled fiancée talks about how he ordered in French at Schrafft’s, and I immediately pictured a bunch of airheaded trophy wives and their blowhard husbands dining there.
Now I want to see Auntie Mame again. I don’t remember that scene but I do remember it was a funny film.
“Show off!” Classic scene!
Thank you! I’m glad I read through the comments before posting how thankful I am to now understand what on earth that reference was to and her “story” is even more silly now that I know what Schrafft’s was. It makes no sense! I love it. Love that movie a little more now, too.
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I had many lunches there with my grandmother or mother while in the City in the late 40’s, early 50’s at the Fifth Ave location. I assumed I was the only male, albeit a 5 year old, in the place. If you peruse the description about the ladies attracted to the “safe place” I swear it was almost all “ladies who lunched” there. Blow up the menu for reverse sticker shock for an extra treat.
Michawl, When you were there was there a piano player?
I think it’s interesting to hear people speak of their jobs with such joy and happy memories. Something significant has changed in America in that I rarely hear anyone say anything positive about their working experiences. I think there is a lack of closeness and connection between the people, as well as to the products and services provided by companies these days.
Someone I know worked for a bank and loved it 20 years ago. Then they started closing down the smaller branches in the neighborhoods where people live. She was moved to a shopping mall, and lost all that individual connection. Every Christmas she use to show us all the presents her customers would give her. All stopped when she left the neighborhood branch.
I served 22 years in the military, and there’s been a huge shift in the way things function there. There seems to be little tolerance for fun and efforts at fault finding to destroy careers over nothing. Very unfortunate.
Not sure what we are experiencing is “progress”.
Agree. File that one under “hell in a hand basket”.
My great-grandmother worked there. She came over from Germany with 2 small children, and her husband died before meeting her here. She didn’t speak any English and was alone to raise her children. She worked at Schrafft’s and ended up becoming the head baker at one of their NYC restaurants. I believe her last name was Ehser.
My mom and aunt still use my great-grandma’s pie crust recipe from Schrafft’s. Seems lard is the secret to a good pie crust.
My mother worked in the New York restaurant for several years in the early thirties, she returned home to England and her sister stayed and went on to be a manager untill she retired.
Was there a Schraffts in New Rochelle, New York?
Yes, I find it listed in New Rochelle directories at 566 Main in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean those were the only decades it was in New Rochelle.
What year did Schrafft’s close on Main st. in New Rochelle? My daughter had her sweet 16th there and now tells me it was never there…
I don’t know the exact date it closed, but there was a Schrafft’s listed in the New Rochelle directory in 1958 at 566 Main. It’s likely it was closed by 1973 when Pet Co. sold off the remaining 22 stores.
Things always get ruined when new owners take over for the simple fact that new owners lack the vision and passion the original creators had. In this day and age style and character have been for the most part eclipsed by the love of money.
Schrafft’s was sacred ground for many in an era of graciousness. Thank God it lasted as long as it did. Such a comfort. I cherish my fond memories. So grateful to my mother, grandmother and aunts for making sure Schrafft’s was an unforgettable part of my childhood.
Long live the chocolate mint ice cream soda!
Chicken salad on toasted cheese bread with Russian Dressing!
And the best hot fudge on the planet!
THANK YOU, SCHRAFFT’S!
My grandmother – Freda Seifer – was the Hostess at the Schrafft’s near Wall St. for years during the late 1940s 1950s and 1960s. As the story goes… “They paid her under the table well into her 80’s because the clients loved her so.”
My mother (Freda was her mother-in-law) took us to the Schrafft’s on Chesnut St in Philadelphia where we lived. I remember the best Coca-Cola sodas I had ever tasted. Something about the mixture of the Coke syrup. (I am now 67.)
Grandma Freda made the trip to NYC to work at Schrafft’s from her home in Jersey City. She had arrived in the USA in the late 1880s – coming over on the boat from Hamburg, Germany (Alone), meeting a cousin in NYC after being processed through Ellis Island. She was one amazing woman and outlived my father, Arthur Seifer MD (an orthopedic surgeon in Philadelphia) who died at the age of 63 of one blocked carotid artery. I, too, have great memories of eating at Schraftt’s in both NYC and Philadelphia. Dark wood tables, lovely waitresses, good food, a cleanliness and sense of order that was hard to beat. Schrafft’s was also a place where my Mom could order a Manhattan and feel comfortable doing so.
Fascinating. Thank you!
I love what you shared about your grandmother Freda. She must have been a special lady. Places like that counted on certain great people to be a mainstay that customers looked. forward to seeing year after year. Unlike today’s fly by night way, it was what gave a place character. The people who greeted you with a smile and knew you by name, and knew your children’s names. Schrafft’s represented a quality of life and grace and style long gone in our current internet speed world. I am also of German roots and all my aunts, as well as my grandmother and mother loved Schrafft’s. Going there was a regular event. I was lucky to have been taken there as a child and have those memories as a sentimental keepsake. Our life wasn’t easy but those memories are sweet.
I love that it was a women’s place! When they tried to bring the men in, it went right under!
I went to school with a girl named Wendy Shattuck. I wonder if Frank was her grandfather. I will ask.
I worked for Schrafft’s for over ten years, started as a soda jerk when in school and became a manager of several restaurant during the 1960 – 1970 time frame. My Mother & Aunt were also workers at Schrafft’s as bakers. Aunt Juila work over 50 years. Still have fond memories.
I am trying to find out whether my great-aunt, Angela Dolan, worked at Schraffts in the 1950s/60s. She was born in 1918 and came from County Fermanagh. Does the name ring a bell with anyone? If so, please drop me an email at email@example.com.
I was just a little girl back in those days. I hope you find someone who knew her.
How wonderful! You must have such a vivid memory of Schrafft’s. Which location? Say, do you remember what color the waitress uniforms were? I want to say pink. So you must remember the glorious hot fudge that turned hard and chewy? The toasted cheesebread sandwiches ( we liked it with chicken salad and Russian Dressing..oh Boy..!) and the famous chocolate mint ice cream sodas? Does anyone remember those? Nobody serves them anymore,Does anybody even serve ice cream sodas anymore? They were a mainstay of my childhood in the 50’s and 60’s. We loved the Automat too. Classic.
The uniforms were a slightly peachy tan with 3/4 sleeves and removable white collars. In the late 60’s they changed to black with white collars.
Was there a german restaurant on broad north of schraff’s?
Wow. I found this site because I came across some family memorabilia in a box. It appears that my Aunt worked as a waitress at the store at 48 Broad St, NY back in 1947. I have a Luncheon Menu and her Welcome to Schrafft’s employee info.
Hi, I worked in Schraffts on west street as a soda jerk 1960s — I worked for Schraffts at New England life insurance co 1960s as a coffee girl — I worked at Schraffts luncheonette 1960s in post office square … In high school looked like a super model ….. Have great stories to tell — Nancy Kelley 646-229-2705
I worked in the White Plains store from 1962-1963. They gave me my wedding cake as a gift.
Coming across some old papers of my mother Annie Ryder nee Kenny found food hygiëne cert from when she worked at Schraffts White Plains back in the late 40s. I grew up with lovely stories of her time working there, she loved it there. She came over from Ireland from a place called Arklow and went back there in 1951. Do you know if the building is still standing? Would there be anywhere I could get some photos of Schraffts White Plains?
I live now in Holland but was brought up in Ireland.
I will check to see if the building still stands. Thanks for your comment!
Perhaps you can help me. I have a footed etched candy dish that has the Schrafft’s Chocolate engraved on he base. I can not find any information about this item. I have been able to find information on the flat square pressed glass candy dish that I believe was issued as a promotional piece. I was wondering if you might have any insight on this delicate item. Thank you
Wow! Would love to chat sometime!
I am a Schrafft!!
Me too! 🙂 My great grandfather was William F. Shrafft, the founder. He started the beloved candy and confectionary company in 1861 in Boston, years before Frank took over and branched into restaurant chains.
Funny enough, many people don’t seem to know the most interesting fact about the Schrafft candy company– they were the first inventors of the Jelly Bean! Years before JellyBelly began it’s own famous line in the 70’s, Schrafft’s had created an entirely new and novel candy product that transformed the larger, softer jellies into a much smaller candy-a bean-that contained the jelly substance within a new hard candy coated shell! It has long been mentioned in my extended family that the novelty of this new candy was that it could be easily carried in pockets without compromising it’s integrity or taste, unlike it’s previous soft jelly form!
It has frequently been said around my family that Schrafft’s jelly beans were marketed and sent off to soldiers during the civil war because it was easy to carry-I am not sure how accurate this is though, given the limited resources to verify it. There is also the rumor that their jelly beans were made and sent off to soldiers with amphetamine or cocaine in them, to help soldiers stay alert and awake during the war. Who knows about that last bit, though it certainly is an interesting thought!
My gorgeous wedding cake came from 5th ave Schaffer’s in 1967 it had been featured in a bride magazine and my wedding was on Long Island you were partners with bohacks super market. And they were able to bring our wonderful cake 🎂 to the huntington store (saved my dear dear daddy Austin Davis Sammis a trip to ny get it) 💕the cake looked like real Lilly of the valley 🌾flowers
I think you mean Schrafft’s.
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Cut my teeth in Schrafft’s from the mid-1950’s until they closed. “Our” Schrafft’s was on W. 52–might have been W. 53–just off 5th Ave. This restaurant snaked back to a soda fountain and candy counter that exited near Rockefeller Center. We ate lunch there regularly as well as dinner. My favorite was a tuna sandwich on toasted cheese bread and a coffee ice cream sundae with hot fudge and salted almonds. For years we carried gallons of Schrafft’s ice cream packed in dry ice from NY to Cleveland on airplanes to my mother’s sisters. We often stopped for a late afternoon break before heading back home on the subway to Queens and had an iced tea or iced coffee or my personal addiction–an all-coffee ice cream soda. They used to have half price dinners for kids under 12 and my dad sent in a photo of me pointing to a sign advertising this. They published it in the company magazine. I still have the copy. Has anyone else read: When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s: Memories, Pictures, and Recipes from a Very Special Restaurant Empire
Sep 10, 2007 by Joan Kanel Slomanson. It has a special place on my bookshelf.
Thanks for your memories. When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s is a charming book.
We still have some time to bring back Schrafft’s with all the frills and a replication of the same interior design.. Wouldn’t it be great Vicki…I didn’t know there was a book out. Have you read it? I may have to get it depending on what you think…Martha
Jan, am going to try and find the book. Still haven’t given up on the idea of bringing Schrafft’s back…Wouldn’t it be a wonder to see this in our lifetime yet? Also wanted to tell you the problems I had posting on your column in the past seem to have been corrected and found at least 2 of my editorial comments from previous years posted. Thank you. I feel I can move forward now. Hope you are well. Martha
Glad it’s become simpler!
Yes. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a wonderful, wonderful book and they give recipes, too!
Hello. In 1939, my mother was a waitress at this location. My father worked at the soda fountain. They met there and married just after the war. She took me there in 1963. We sat at the counter. I remember the fresh squeezed orange juice being made with a machine. She spoke of Schraffts throughout my childhood. She considered herself proud to have worked there. She said, “Everything had to be just so perfect”. She spoke of her food memories as well. Mom walked the Queensboro Bridge every day. Sometimes I want to walk that bridge to Schraffts just to walk where she did.
YES!! WONDERFUL BOOK!! I too grew up going to Schrafft’s. Best hot fudge anywhere on the PLANET! Toasted cheesebread, YES!! We would have Chicken Salad on toasted cheesebread with Russian Dressing. I loved the famous chocolate mint ice cream soda. Can anyone recall the color of the waitress uniforms?
I don’t suppose anyone remembers a waitress from Schrafft’s called Angela Dolan? She was from County Fermanagh and had blonde hair. I think she may have worked there in the 1950s/60s.
Was there a Schraffts near 72nd and Broadway in the 50’s ?
I don’t think so but it’s quite difficult to be certain. In 1964 the company published a NY walking map for visitors to the World’s Fair which showed the locations then and this is the only complete list I’ve seen from any date close to the 1950s. On that map the nearest location to 72nd and Broadway is at 82nd and Broadway (2285 Bdwy). It had also been there in the 1950s. The map is shown in Joan Kanel Slomanson’s book When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s.
I own an original Schraffts bar, probably 10 feet long with a 90 degree turn, with cutouts for the soda fountain, a door and flip top for service, our family has had for many years, from my grandmother who worked there when they closed it. Any idea where I could get it appraised, does anyone on this board have interest in it, or know someone who may? I live near Dallas, TX
I worked at Schrafft’s in the mid 60’s, during the summer. An illness caused me to leave. Is Schrafft’s still in existence? How do I contact their corporate offices?
Schrafft’s is gone.
Sadly Schrafft’s is gone. Not sure what you did there but is it at all possible that you know the recipe for the fudge candy they use to sell. I remember getting the chocolate, maple and chocolate with a marshmallow middle. I have been trying for years to get the recipe and any help will be greatly appreciated.
Sadly long gone. The cop on the corner of Madison Avenue had to break it to my mother gently when she came up to him when she was visiting NY in the 70’s, walking around and around frantically looking for her Schrafft’s. I was with her. It was terrible.
I was a manager of Schrafft’s restaurants during their Pet Milk/Andy Warholl “rebranding” days in the ’60’s. I once had a hostess for the summer who had to leave because of illness. She was one of the school girls in the movie The Children’s Hour starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. Was that you? 🙂
Hi Eric, do you happen to remember a waitress called Angela from County Fermanagh?
My Mom worked at the Schrafft’s Restaurant on Chestnut Street in Philly and then eventually she managed the one at 6 Penn Center in Philly back in the 50’s-60’s. I remember going there so many times, I worked there also at the candy counter when I was in high school!! I was so excited when the Army-Navy game came into town because I was in my teens and would help as a hostest! What memories!
I have tried for years to get the recipe for Schrafft’s Fudge Candy, the chocolate and maple. I also remember one that was chocolate with a marshmallow middle. Any help in pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.
Did you read the book? It’s probably in there.
I did a quick search and found this … It mentions it’s slightly altered from the “original” recipe (and has a broken hotlink to the original), but seems to be close enough??
Schrafft’s Hot Fudge Sauce
(slightly modified from the original version)
— 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
— 1/4 cup sugar
— 2/3 cup skim milk
— 1/4 cup half-and-half
— 2/3 cup corn syrup
— 2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
— 1 tablespoon butter
— 1/4 teaspoon vinegar
— Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; boil for 7 minutes, stirring once or twice, then let rest 30 minutes before serving.
–Makes 1-1/4 cups of sauce.
I actually would like CAKE WITH BUTTER CREAM ICING YUM
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This subject as well as this website is without a doubt one of my all time favorite subjects and places to visit! My battle cry, ” Let’s Bring Back Schrafft’s,” is fashioned after the belief that is FAO Schwartz, one of, if not the most popular toy store in the nation albeit, in the world, can be resurrected from the dead so can Schrafft’s, a ground breaking experience in middle American dinning be restored to it’s rightful place in American society. Revisiting the growth and development of Schrafft’s through it’s 50 year plus evolution, and reading, sort-to-speak between the lines, one can clearly interpret the importance and success Schrafft’s ultimately achieved in creating, food and beverage establishments that fulfilled several important purposes; both practical and entertaining….Put in clear basic terms, Schrafft’s was a place where for the price of a usual or slightly above usual luncheon selection, patrons could thoroughly enjoy excellent service from waitresses dressed in freshly starched uniforms who dotted the landscape from behind the counters or table side.. Always with a smile, and ordering books handy, luncheon selections including classy desserts, were taken with a flurry of efficiency accompanied by wide, friendly smiles. Schrafft’s was by all standards and inclusive of all locations, a daytime happening event. After exhaustive shopping ventures, sightseeing, Broadway browsing, the fact that women could be served a ‘noon time high ball’ well within acceptable social boundaries while their children sipped on the best ice cream sodas in the world, only proved to further characterize and deepen the mystique that permeated the atmosphere and diverse dining experience at Schrafft’s.
I have fallen in love all over again now with all the memories I have accrued frequenting Schrafft’s over the years of my youth with my very special person, Aunt Maggie, who also held Schrafft’s in a place of high esteem…And her opinion was not ever to be taken lightly since both she and her husband, Uncle Pat, had in fact themselves been owners and operators of a very successful restaurant located in the heart of NYC started during ‘the Great Depression’ years….” No easy task, Martha,” she would often say. And I hung onto every word of those restaurant stories which were, for a starry-eyed pubescent girl, the stuff that dreams were made of……The drama of waking at 3 or 4 am, getting to work in the dark, opening a locked restaurant, taking deposits safely to the local bank, creating affordable, appealing menus, waiting on customers, butchering meat in the walk-in freezer, and the abundance of small chores all of which combined at the counter to provide a well balanced, well cooked, affordable meal in the 1920’s/30’s. Their restaurant was called “The Piccadilly,” located at 168th St. and Columbia -Presbyterian, just opposite the old Babies Hospital, and near the bus station to change to the Red & Tan lines that traveled throughout New Jersey. Might there be anyone out there who can recall The Picadelly, or maybe even have vintage photos?
Thank you Vicky for all the valuable victualling you have done, for the inspirational articles you have contributed, for keeping ‘the faith’, and for your web site, because we can recreate the experience and with a heap of effort renew an unspoken contract the founders of Schrafft’s made with the public-at-large….. “LET’S BRING BACK SCHRAFFTS” … more to come……think about how nice it would be right now walking through the sparkling glass doors at the 58th street location or the 34th St. Mezzanine location walking in to that aroma of fresh turkey dinner and grilled cheese sandwiches!—Just think about having that uniqueness all over again.
I had my first Tom Collins at Schrafft’s in NYC… when I was 16 yrs old. I went with my sister. My grandmother used to take us there after shopping at Best & Co. LOVED it!
Best & Company!! I used to get my haircut there! On the top floor. I remember how it smelled.You got a balloon, clear, with a red bear inside, in a string with helium, so it stayed up. Alot of my clothes came from Best & Company and we would go see Santa there too. Remember Hamburger Heaven with that sweet red relish?? OMG. Also a classic lunch place my mother would take me to for a hamburger before or after shopping. Right around the corner from Best and Company, not far from Schrafft’s. We had it good back in those days, Girls!!
Great years of my life too but we were to young to really know it.. My grandmother lived in the plaza hotel she would take me to schrafft’s or to Hicks for lunch. Hicks made a drink with orange juice and either raspberry or orange sherbert and then filled with the best combination of fresh fruit..I was in heaven. There were so many great restaurants, the automat was alot of fun. My mom and I shopped at Klein’s, Loehman’s, best’s, orbach’s, Saks, Henri Bendel’s, Bonwits, and Berdorff’s, “Those were the day’s”
Can anyone confirm that there was a Schrafft’s at 110 Church Street in NY?
Yes, there was a Schrafft’s at that address, corner of Park, that opened around 1967.
There was also one at 80 Pine
Ii remember my folks lived in Washington Heights during the 1950’s. I came home on furlough from the Army and they took me to Schraffts in the Times Sqaure area. Not sure of the location as it was in 1951. I was dressed in civvies with no coat and tie. As I entered the restaurant, I was told I had to put on a jacket that they gave me made out of some kind of paper material and a bow tie. Otherwise I couldnl’t eat there with my folks. As I remember, food was served in large bowls on the table and you chose what you wanted. Fond memories.
BRING BACK SCHRAFFT’S !!!!
When I stop to think of all my childhood memories that were created in and around NYC for many, many years, at the top of the list along side shopping in Gimbels basement and Macy’s Dept. Store was lunching with my Great Aunt Maggie Byrne at Schrafft’s, and I am guessing it was the one at 54th & 23rd. I just barely remember the long, curving counter, may have been pink and the swivel chairs, a golden-straw looking color or maybe even black or grey in one location. There was gum stuck under the counters (in all locations) and for which I was seriously “rebuked,” for even attempting to look. I also for-sure did some serious “swiveling” while waiting for the lunch order to be taken, and for that wonderfully warm and creamy grilled cheese to be served, with a pickle, a few chips, and milk. Dessert? Sometimes, but that was often waived in lieu of getting 3 Schrafft’s brand of lollipops for a buck at the cashier’s desk. There were probably eight or nine flavors in total from which to choose only 3. The huge plate glass doors made a distinct sound as they were in constant motion from being pushed and pulled open non-stop from the masses, not too mention the aroma that just 1 of those “swooshing’ sounds made.
But Schrafft’s was the place! Yes, for women and for young women and for little women (girls)…..almost in the same way an “all girls school” is described as creating a special learning environment, creating academic challenges unequaled in co-ed schools. And in creating culturally, social experiences unrivaled by years of socializing and dating both upper and lower classmen. In the co-ed world it was all right there. ..too easy, as Aunt Maggie use to say. But a day in the city with an afternoon stop at Schrafft’s made all the difference by making all the necessary adjustments quickly. We walked into Schrafft’s as wanton women and walked out as sanctified, ratified, half baked, classy, cat lily’s, smelling of high-minded morals and Yardley Soaps.
So along with all the melancholia, and memorabilia making its way back onto the streets and scenes of NYC, and with whole neighborhoods being re-designed and constructed to reveal the early colonial charm of a young and budding 19th century commercial America, I cast a strong vote here, now, in this brief description of a landmark that must be renewed, re-created, re-christened and above all returned to its rightful owner: the throngs of NYC women and families who kept the soda fountain, the dessert cases, and starchy-pink uniforms of the waitresses fresh. LET’S BRING BACK SCHRAFFT’S RESTAURANT!!!
PS With copies of all the old print advertising.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful details and for your enthusiasm for Schrafft’s. I’m sure there would be a lot of petition signers for your idea!
Then let’s do it! We’ll look for some investment capital and talk to the big idea people. I am certain with enough petitions and the correct slant in presentation, this could really work!!!
I used to eat high tea at Schraffts when I was a little girl — would love it.
uhh..54th and 23rd?
“Starchy pink uniforms” !! YES!! They were PINK!! Thank you for clearing that up!! I remember them as pink, but wasn’t sure. Oh, how I wish my mother were still around to weigh in on this conversation. She’d have plenty of details to help paint this picture.
I have an old tin Schrafft’s candy box.
Can you post a picture of this tin? It might help to joggle some memories for sure and may help us to design a new one for a second chance and possibly a “re-opening of Schrafft’s.” Any pictures of the original advertising, products, especially tins, etc. will be helpful. This is a great time to collect ideas, thoughts and best of all memories as a way to design a future opening of “Schrafft’s.”
In 1967 — Schraffts made our beautiful wedding cake! In n y c — it was then brought out to Huntington long island to the bohacks grocery store that used to sell their products!! (this saved my daddy from having to go to NYC to pick it up! My mom, me and my bridesmaids went to see it in bohacks fridge the day before the wedding! The cake was all Lilly of the valley in butter cream! It looked so real that people wanted to touch it to see if it was or not! It was — 4 tiers tall! — had been on the cover of a brides magazine! We still think it was the best looking and testing wedding cake ever!!
My mother used to take me to matinees on Broadway and/or the Holiday shows at Radio City Music Hall followed by ice cream at Schrafft’s. It always seemed so fancy to me. Great memories.
I HAD LUNCH AT SCHRAFFTS 5TH AVE EVERY DAY FOR 2 YEARS IN THE 1970’S.MY GIRLFRIEND JANE KLUFER WENT TO MILLS COLLEGE ON W 11TH ST, AND SHE GOT LUNCH THERE GREAT FOLKS AND FOOD.
I knew a Jane Klufer from Mills when I attended NYU Law School from 1969 – 1972. How is she and what is she doing?
I remember going to Best and Company for haircuts and then off to Schrafft’s. Years later I found myself in the classroom of Dr Shattuck , who taught Sociology at Fordham University. I think he was a grandson, and he was a fabulous teacher! Such a small world!!
Yes! Haircuts!! Top floor. And you got a balloon.
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Most of the comments here are from happy customers with fond memories of times gone by. That brings a smile to my face. I have a different experience. While working as a waiter in college at a couple of fine Georgetown restaurants in the 60’s, I became intrigued by the restaurant business. Returning to NYC, I was hired by Schrafft’s in the mid-sixtiees and was a part of changing the “little old ladies eating tea sandwiches” image. Pet Milk seemed to be an odd match but they had the money and supported Frank Shattuck, Jr’s new vision for the company.
I remember top management’s first ill conceived steps in that direction. They thought they could change the image overnight by bringing in Andy Warhol and James Beard to help give the impression that it was catering to a sophisticated and hip customer. The follow thru was weak not just for the reason that most of the top managment in the chain were very heavy drinkers…if you know what I mean, but the food on the plate and the logo on the silverware remained unmistakenly Schafft’s. Not to mention the cost controls and auditing was loose as a goose. Ultimately, that is what brought the company down.
My Mom gave over 20 years to the company and when they were making the changes, in 1971 one day they came in and demoted her an assistant manager and transferred her over 50 miles away to another restaurant. Up to that time I had wonderful memories.. My Dad had MS and there was no way she could be that far away from him! So she had no other option but to quit.
” Striving For The Stars ”
Sue, I was sorry to read about your mother’s employment situation with Schrafft’s. Over the years of my experience ( and most of the time my experience was from a child’s view) I came to see Schrafft’s as a positive place that I loved to frequent with my great aunt Margaret. She, an avid, experienced New Yorker, was a great companion and guide, ushering us through the narrow, windy, noisy streets of one of the greatest cities in the world! In fact nearly everything associated with Aunt Maggie, was positive and Schrafft’s was no exception.So, when I read your story today I was saddened that a place that was usually so positive had such negative consequences for a family that really could have used a helping hand….In my experience, a very unusual event when compared to the number of positive reports from employees of that era.
I would like to bring Schrafft’s back, with the original interior restaurant design, uniforms, colors, but with some specific updating. Not unlike how FAO Schwartz was rescued from the brink of extinction,..I envision the same experience for Schrafft’s, so that current and future generations can have the same exceptional palate, dining and socially pleasing experiences the past generations have. Basically , a “Luncheonette,” with a twist of sophisticated “high brow,” as we matured in age along with the years Schrafft’s racked up in service, there was not then or now any other place that offered the coiffured experience in casual daytime dining…and that was the very special part..Lunch, just plain ol’ lunch was elevated to a status that could have and probably in some case scenarios did compete with the very few other places throughout the globe that served “quail drenched a’ la flambe” or fresh, warm, fancy egg salad on rye toast points for lunch. Not too mention the exquisite, velvety milk shakes that accompanied any meal with a mere request!
However all of that withstanding,and getting back to your reporting, I wish there could have been some helpful correction made for your mother especially after 20 years of service and the heavy family life responsibilities she shouldered..It’s hardly enough to simply say, “It happens,” We know that all too frequently those that need the most support don’t get it. So, looking then on the other side of the coin, the way I would respond is to say that should my dream about Schrafft’s ever come into being, or fruition in my lifetime, I would ask those people,like your mother, who are due a correction to please step to the head of the Schrafft’s employment line. Then let’s talk about what can be done, mutually agreeable. This is after all, OUR reality show about Restauranteering, and we should “strive for the stars.”
Much like you, my dad worked at Schrafft’s (46th st location) for over 20 years and was let go when the company was making changes (I was only 7 or 8 years old at the time). I recall him saying that they offered him some other job but it wasn’t feasible for him to take it (i’m not sure if this is true or just a jumble of childhood memories).
I do remember this being a tense time in the home as my father was soon to be unemployed and not much in future prospects. There were many hushed (and not so hushed) discussions between him and my mother at that time.
My father was Puerto Rican and although his english skills (reading/writing) were passable he never did get further than third grade in school and had three three kids and a wife at home to support.
I remember seeing a pay stub once and he was paid $75 a week (about $450 in 2015).
Things did work out for us in the end but I will always remember the suits my father always wore to work and the stories he told of the customers he waited on.
I too worked for Schrafft’s around the time you did although my Schrafft’s days were interrupted by Vietnam from Nov 1965 through Sep 1967. I was a soda jerk pre Vietnam at 13th st and 5th Avenue; and a bartender at 59th and Madison and later a manger of various locations and a supervisor before going with Steak and Brew which later became Beefsteak Charlies.
I think my grandmother, Eileen, worked at the 59th location as a waitress. I’ve been searching for Schrafft’s photos for a scrapbook.
Pet Milk and Frank Jr. ruined it. You don’t mess with perfection.
One of my fond memories as a young boy in the mid 50’s visting my Grandmother (Nana) and my Aunt Mae (RIP) who lived in Inwood, NYC, and took my brother and I to Schrafft’s many times. We were 8 & 9 years old and before we were seated they provided us with suit coats to wear. Needless to say, the jackets were 10 times to big and had to roll the sleeves up a few times.
It would have made a charming Norman Rockwell painting.
One of my fondest memories as a child was accompanying my two great aunts to Shrafft’s for lunch in Syracuse. My sister and I would be dressed in our finest and my aunts taught us how to properly greet their many friends who also were sure to be there! Does anyone say “How do you do?” anymore?
We lived in Eastwood. My Grandmother would take me to Schraffts on South Warren Street, I believe. The place was dark (mahogany) with mirrors and chandeliers. I loved the tea sandwich tray. Wish I could find a photo or a postcard of it.
Because Schrafft’s made their own coffee syrup, no one could ever compare, then or now, with their legendary coffee ice cream soda.
Wonderful and special Saturday memories of childhood; first a piano lesson and then Schrafft’s.
I was married in 1969, and had my reception at the Schraffts in White Plains, NY. It was a large banquet room and there were approx. 65 guests. I wonder if this is the same Schraffts. Did Schraffts host wedding receptions?
There was a Schrafft’s at 193 Main Street in White Plains as far back as the 1930s, so I’d be fairly sure your reception was held at THE Schrafft’s. Plus, I’ve never run across any other Schrafft’s. They usually had some private rooms so it’s likely they would host functions of any sort.
Just by coincidence I came across your blog. My wife still speaks highly of the time she was employed in this very restaurant as a waitress in White Plains and the great friends she made there. She returned to Ireland were we meet and we just celebrated our 54 wedding anniversary. I must share this site with her as I know it will awaken great memories. Kind Regards Ted Rooney
Mr. Rooney, Life is grand when you can share memories. Congrats on 54 years…best of luck to both of you…
I remember eating at Schraffts in Boston at Park Square. We worked on a project at work on Saturdays and our boss took us to lunch each day at Schraffts. We would all have the breakfast. I can still taste it. My aunt also used to take us there…. very fond memories. Now I am older than my aunt
at the time… this was back in the early 60’s…
I fondly remember another part of Schrafft’s, the non commerical operations in NYC. The management company was acquired by Saga Foodservice in the early 70’s. My trips to New York included visits to more than one company’s foodservice operations in the same building, a converted “Farmhouse” executive dining room in the upper floors of a high rise, American Can, Diamond sugar, etc. The management team was so sophisticated compared to Saga, the recipes were tops and it was amazing to see how they got on phones to call in temps every day for no shows (so service to the customer and clients remained seamless).
Love that farmhouse executive dining room!
I worked for the last of the Schraffts. I was a driver for Schraffts ice cream.
It was a graet job, and a great ice cream.
In the early 60s my wife worked in the White Plains restaurant and still retains many happy memories of that period, her name then was Pat Mc Quaid I wonder if any of her old workmates are still around from that period?
Found this article in a search when I found a spoon marked “FRANK G SHATTUCK CO.” on the back of the handle and a large monogram “S” on the top front of the handle. The spoon is in excellent condition and is Oneida Hotel Plate Triple. Anyone know anything about this spoon?
Judy, I don’t know anything about the spoons, but I have 12 of them and also have 13 pcs with schraffs fifth avenue on the back. I’ve been trying to fin d out more info. Mary
I regularly ate there with my mother, older sister and grandmother in the early to mid-60s whenever we Jerseyites came into “the City” to do the Fifth Avenue department stores, or just to spend time with my grandmother. I remember a dark, genteel atmosphere, though not what you’d call fancy exactly. Lady-like. The way older museum restaurants today still feel, perhaps. I always had a turkey club on toast (slathered with mayo) and a chocolate ice cream soda. The food was good.
I recently found (in the bottom of a drawer) a booklet entitled “Rules for Waitresses” The Schrafft’s Stores, Frank G. Shattuck Co. This booklet has no date printed on it, but was from the Schrafft’s in Syracuse, New York. This is a precious piece of memorabilia and should be preserved. Do you know whom I could contact about this copy?
Lucky you! You could post an alert on e-Bay and then if another Schrafft’s booklet like yours came up you could see what it sold for. If you are thinking of donating it, you might contact the NYPL.
I certainly remember the Schrafft’s that was on Broadway near Maiden Lane (that’s the Wall Street section of NYC). That’s where I had my first summer job at age 16 and I had the pleasure of washing dishes in their basement. They did give me a free lunch before starting work. And we were so lucky when the fountain clerks would send down with the dishes an empty tup of ice cream with some left at the bottom. That was one of my fond memories of growing up in NYC. Lucky me again; I’m no longer washing dishes in any restaurant. To paraphrase Costanza and Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with washing dishes…”