|Forren's is gone, but the postcard is worth two bucks|
Forren's must have been a very big deal in Emporia. The postcard boasts that it had five private dining rooms seating more than 500 people. The restaurant served "hot dishes, cool sparkling salads, and fine foods ... without extravagance."
You can find collectibles from the old Forren's on ebay (including this postcard, which averages about two bucks). That got me thinking about the relics from other restaurants closer to home. What's valuable and what isn't?
I asked my friend Carol Barta -- garage sale maven and antique dealer -- what's really collectible in the field of restaurant memorabilia.
"Flatware," she said, "if it's engraved with the name of a restaurant, hotel, or country club that isn't around anymore. Just yesterday I found four knives at a thrift store engraved with the name of the Alameda Plaza. Obviously that particular building is still operating as the InterContinental, but that hotel has been gone for some time."
Hotel and restaurant china is harder to find because it often wasn't designed with the name or logo of a restaurant on it, like the old Howard Johnson's chinaware (which is very collectible because there are only a handful of restaurants left in the once-vast Howard Johnson's chain).
"Restaurant collectibles are always much more valuable when the restaurant is out of business," Barta said.
Restaurant menus are collectible too, but not as popular as china or flatware. "People like to use the restaurant memorabilia that they find. It's fun to set a table with old silverware from a long-forgotten hotel or china from some iconic restaurant like the old Harvey House diner. You can only look at an old menu."
And, God knows, you can't order from it. But I'd still like to see an old Forren's Restaurant menu. I don't think I've ever tasted a "cool, sparkling salad."