Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Five time-warp restaurants in Kansas City

Posted By on Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 3:45 PM

It's still the 1960s at The Golden Ox Steakhouse.
  • It's still the 1960s at The Golden Ox Steakhouse.
It's still the 1960s at The Golden Ox Steakhouse.
No, you don't have to climb into The Time Machine to find out how Kansas City diners enjoyed a meal during a different time and place. Just walk into the city's oldest dining room, the Savoy Grill, and you're instantly in 1903, the year that the Savoy Hotel (which started checking in guests in 1888) opened its ground-floor restaurant.

The prices, alas, reflect the economy of 2010 all too accurately. There were other, grander hotel dining rooms in 1903 (the Baltimore Hotel's Pompeian Room, the first air-conditioned dining venue in the city, for example), but the Savoy Grill outlasted all the competition and looks almost exactly as it did when William Henry Craddock was Kansas City's mayor.

And what other restaurants still evoke the look and feel of an earlier decade?

5. The Golden Ox Steakhouse actually dates back to 1949, when the stockyards were still a vital operation in the West Bottoms, but was expanded and redecorated in 1968 -- that's when the bar was added to the restaurant -- and that's the particular ambience of the restaurant today, which is why many local patrons prefer it to those beef-selling whippersnappers like Plaza III, which opened in 1963, but has been redecorated many times since.

4. The Village Inn Family Restaurant, at 5800 Broadmoor in Mission, opened in 1967 and still looks very much like it did. That's probably reassuring to patrons who enjoy finishing a hearty breakfast with a big slab of chocolate cream pie. No one was really that serious about dieting in 1967, and only hardcore fashion fanatics, wanting that waiflike Twiggy look, would take a can of Metrecal over a healthy cheeseburger.

3. The Tsui family (including their young daughter. Theresa, who now runs the Bo Lings restaurants with her, husband Richard Ng) opened the original Dragon Inn Chinese restaurant in 1975, and the dining room still looks very much as it did when it first opened with lots of gilded dragons and red lanterns. They don't make Chinese restaurants like this anymore.

2. Fox's Drug Store in Raytown expanded its soda fountain in 1957. The current incarnation looks vaguely as if it hadn't been redecorated since the early 1970s, but that's part of its unique charm.

1. The Humdinger Drive-In, at 2504 East Ninth Street, isn't quite a half-century old, but it so completely evokes the golden era of drive-in restaurants (pre-McDonald's, that is) that it really should be given historic landmark status.

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