“Eating healthy”

Restaurants (and their critics) have often shown concern with patrons’ health, but the focus of concern has varied widely in different eras.

In the 18th century the idea that restaurants had a mission to restore health came to this country from France. The legend spread that a Frenchman named Boulanger invented the first restaurant, hanging out a signboard stating “I will restore you.” Whether or not this actually occurred — or whether he was “the first” — it is true that early restaurants in France promised to provide healthful dishes. The mission migrated to America as chefs arrived after the French revolution. When Julien’s opened in Boston the proprietor vowed to supply the infirm, convalescent, and weak with “nourishing” soups and broths, including turtle soups which, he advertised, would purify the blood.

But the early French “restorators” were voices shouting in the wilderness. For most of the next two centuries Americans believed their health depended on eating meat and lots of it. In the latter 19th century and into the 20th, concern shifted to unsanitary conditions in restaurants as health departments were created, ordinances established, and inspectors dispatched.

The vegetarian restaurants of the early 20th century demonstrated a renewed interest in healthy diets. Meat substitutes produced by the Kelloggs of the Battle Creek Sanitarium appeared on their tables, although breakfast cereals, whose popularity was aided by restaurant promotions, were undoubtedly the most successful of all health food products.

The food conservation guidelines of World War I lightened diets, with less meat and more vegetables on restaurant menus, as well as spreading knowledge of nutrition. A few chains, such as J. R. Thompson and Childs, provided vitamin and calorie counts in the 1920s. But the public was not too receptive. Stockholders booted out William Childs after he gained control of the mighty lunchroom corporation and removed meat from its menus, causing sales to plunge drastically.

After a prolonged beef-eating revival following the end of WWII rationing, health-conscious restaurants made a comeback as part of a counterculture critique of industrialized food. The “holy war against adulterated foods and french-fried, frozen, super sugar wastelands,” reported Mary Reinholz in the Los Angeles Times in 1971, had produced at least 25 organic restaurants in southern California, including H.E.L.P., Aware Inn, The Source, and Nucleus Nuance which served “evolution burgers,” “Virgo vege-loaves,” and carob mousse. One Los Angeles counterculture restaurant favorite, carrot cake, crossed over onto mainstream menus.

Natural food eating places, such as St. Louis’s Sunshine Inn, Long Island’s Shamballah Gardens, the Haven in Honolulu, Homeward Bound in Flagstaff, and Mary’s Natural Food Restaurant in Denton TX, to name but a few, soon spread throughout much of the country, laying the groundwork for the restaurant revival of the 1980s.

© Jan Whitaker, 2008


Filed under alternative restaurants, food, restorators

22 responses to ““Eating healthy”

  1. Dave Fairfield

    Does anyone have a recipe for the Rice Trip at H.B.? I worked at the Canyon from’75-’78, and used to catch a ride into town just for this great meal. Now I look to recapture the sights, sounds, and flavors of my youth.

    • Teresa Balboni

      Dave Fairfield, asking for recipe for RICE TRIP, responding to Homeward Bound Natural health Food Store and cafe in (1979) Flagstaff, AZ– i amsorry i dont have the recipe for this, but have a suggestion for you.

      I am still in touch with a few people who also worked in the Canyon then. They suggested i go on the Canyon’s Facebook page…maybe you could ask there, too. I tried to re-read the article by the blogger, on this Restaurt-ing thru history site, but HB was not to be found there anymore, when i did a “search”.

      Feel free to email me again with any memories-


      I worked for Fred Harvey from June 1978-1979, then for YACC at GC NPS till 1980, then down at Phantom Ranch as an SCA vol. till ’81, Could not get enuf Canyon 🙂 Take great care!

      Thanks so much for your great blog!

  2. I was recruited from Boston by Fred Harvey Co, worked at the Canyon ar Bright Angel Lodge, in 1978, we’d thumb to Flag, eat at H.B. and met so many nice people. Greatest memories. I remember we could ask HB for their whey from their tofu- they gave that out for free. We’d bring it back to the dorms, or make soy burgers there at a friends place in Flag. Very free and easy were those days…such fond memories. How I found you was going through old post cards of mine sent to my parents, that they saved. One read, “Here at Homeward Bound listening to beautiful music with my canyon friend Joan Barr of Ohio. Life is good.” I salute all of you who experienced the joy of peace there as i did. Truly thankful. God is good!!!
    Teresa Balboni, Colter Hall then, Alaska now~

  3. busybeard

    I have Annie’s recipe for Cheesecake if anyone wants it. I also have:
    Homeward Bound’s Cheese Salad Dressing:
    1 C. Yogurt
    2 C. grated cheese (sorry, doesn’t say which kind but probably muenster)
    1/2 C. vinegar
    1 tsp. caraway seed
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    3/4 C. Oil
    1/4 C. water
    3 cloves garlic
    1 chopped onion
    Blend all the above in a blender or food processor.

    Enjoy! Thanks for the memories 🙂

    • Sue Dobies

      I loved Homeward Bound, especially the Rice Trip! The music was beautiful, the food healthy and delicious, and there is not another restaurant like it. My sister went to NAU, and we went there often.
      I would really like to have the recipe for Annie’s Cheesecake if your offer is still available!

      Thanks, Sue

  4. So who here remembers Timothy? He was managing the restaurant when I lived in Flagstaff (1976-77). He and Debra, who sold herbs at Enchanted Owl (we bought this store from a woman when we first came to town), were very close friends and were midwives in the area. Timothy was at the restaurant most of the time. I remember Tomás and Paja, Joe, and Avtar. Avtar is still in Flagstaff and still performing his music. Avtar used to work at the restaurant and play music there. It was his P.A. that stayed on the stage for all to use.

    Layne (aka Leslye)

    Busybeard…who are you? 🙂

    • busybeard

      Hi Layne,
      I was friends with Joseph Coco, and his girlfriend Valarie. Just a 18 year old student at the time, and briefly worked with Annie and Tomas baking cookies. I remember Debra; she was a cool lady. Did you know Muck?

      • I knew Joseph (Joe) and am sure I met Valerie. I remember the name Muck, so I must have known him. It was so long ago! There are a couple others’ names I will recall and post later. I did some recording with a flute player there and just can’t recall his name at this moment! I spent a lot of time at Homeward Bound. I played there several times a week and knew most of the folks that frequented the place. What a special restaurant that was.

    • Tom Gasson

      Tom here. Was a “partner” at Homeward Bound 1979 to 1980. I remember Timothy and Debra. That was soooo long ago. Wow. I have a copy of a book written at the time of Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA. Homeward Bound is kindly and very nicely mentioned. That was SO long ago but I am NOT so far from it. Make sense?


    • marelight

      Does anyone know where Debra and Timothy from Homeward Bound are now?… I have so many memories from that beautiful place and beautiful people. Only saw your blog now in 2021…!!! I would love to know about them, the history of Homeward Bound. What happened to it and them?
      Love and light from that beautiful time. Marelight

  5. Tari VanAssche

    Hey Denise Miller,
    My sister Annie VanAssche was one of the original partners of Homeward Bound, until she moved on sometime early 1978 to the valley south of Yakima to pick fruit. She was staying with the Love family at the time. Maybe you were one of the people who traveled with us to Phoenix in 1975? I came in the winter of 1975 and again the summers of 1976 & 1977 to visit Annie and ended up helping make bread at night, and playing at the restaurant (guitar & sing.) We stayed in the tipi lodges up on Lake Mary with Annie and her partner at the time — cannot remember his name, maybe Leroy? I have been back to Flagstaff a number of times and boy did that neighborhood change. Homeward Bound was a jewelry store the last time I went to Phoenix & Flagstaff in April 2007. I would love to get back in contact with anyone connected to Homeward Bound. Got to thinking about this as I was doing a search for Co-ops and I remember the one in Flagstaff that we used to sell bread to.

    • Hello there, my name is Lisa and would you believe that I used to work at Homeward Bound Restaurant in Flagstaff Az. in 1979. I was there about 2 yrs. I was trying to find some info on the old place and I came across your page here. I have quite a few fantastic stories. People would be passing through town and we would let them wash dishes for food, sometimes putting them up for the night with whoever had the most room at the time. I will never forget the three Zen Buddhist Monks that came through town. They “walked” from clear across the country! I was the lucky one that time and had the pleasure of letting them spend the night at my house! I miss those times and the wonderful people I worked with. I do believe that Flagstaff may become home again.

      Peace, Love and Light

    • busybeard

      Hi Tari,
      I used to work at Homeward Bound also! It was the night shift a couple nights per week, as I was at NAU full time. I remember Annie well, and she was so patient and forgiving if we would burn a batch of cookies. Gosh, I think the night shift paid about $7, but I would have done it for free. Anyone remember Tomas and his wife Paw Ha? or Muck?

  6. Tom Gasson


    When did you experience Homeward Bound in Flagstaff? I was one of the original partners… at 19 years old circa 1979. The experience was pretty much life changing and guiding. I hadn’t thought about it for awhile but Googled “Homeward Bound Flagstaff” and found your article.


    • Hi Tom, I can’t say that I ever had that pleasure but would love to hear more about your experiences! — Jan

    • Just had to jump in here. I lived in Flagstaff for about a year in 1976-77 and used to play guitar and sing at Homeward Bound on a very regular basis, a few times a week, both afternoon and evenings. It was such a beautiful space with warm, homey vibes, and absolutely wonderful food. All the people there were creative, kind, supportive, and ran a great restaurant. I will always remember the lovely wood paneled walls, the very nice little stage for music, the very cool little wood tables, and all the paintings by local artists on the walls (like Joseph Coco).

      Many fond memories, and some nice photos too! So sad places like this don’t live forever.

      Thanks for the opportunity to share….


    • denise miller

      Hi Jan, Tom and Layne,
      I worked at Homeward Bound restaurant in August of 1978 for just a few weeks. My story regarding how I ended up working there is long – but for me also life changing. Some of the people I remember floating around the area was a kind woman named Joni – who I thought managed that place. Also, there was Leroy – who claimed he was a leprechaun (I’m totally serious – as was he). There was also a woman named Sunshine – who I ended up hitchhiking with up to Yakima (with her german shepard) to pick fruit. That was late August 1978 – amazing considering I was only 19 at the time. There was also an older woman than myself who had a young daughter named Abby. I remember spending time with them and driving up to the Hopi reservation to observe the sacred snake dance. I would LOVE to find out about these folks that passed through my life back then. I did keep a journal and still have some postcards from that time so long ago – but just not enough to go on with just first names listed. I did have a chance to visit Flagstaff 9 years ago – and stopped in the beverage store on the corner near the old restaurant (Homeward Bound)…but wasn’t able to get much info on the aforementioned characters. Thanks for posting this though – fun to read and realize this place is not forgotten in the least! Denise Miller, Pittsburgh

    • busybeard

      Tom, are you Tomas with the long, black hair who was with Paw Ha (sorry if I’m spelling her name wrong!)? My best friend in college was dating Joseph Coco, and Valarie and I worked at night baking cookies. I still remember what I regularly ordered for dinner: brown rice, with cheese and sprouts. Of course you would add tamari and cayenne pepper!

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