Yesterday, I remembered another era in American history when modern technology was going to replace every waiter and waitress in America. This was before computers, so the state-of-the-art technology of the time was a telephone.
If I hadn't spent most of the late 1970s nursing hangovers, I might have remembered that there were other restaurants in that decade that tried the novelty of having telephones on every table in order to call the kitchen -- eliminating servers, with typically disastrous results, especially if alcohol was a component of the meal -- or to chat up other customers. The Max & Erma's restaurants are an example. I didn't even know that this Denver-based restaurant chain -- which did away with the table telephones in the late 1980s -- was still in existence. (The closest one to Kansas City is in St. Peters, Missouri).
The short-lived restaurant chain of the 1970s that used telephones so customers could call in their own orders was Nebraska-based King's Food Host. The signature sandwich at those restaurants was apparently inspired by both the national sandwich of France, the croque monsieur -- hence the name, "Cheese Frenchee" -- and a chicken-fried steak. A very brief mention of this sandwich on The Walt Bodine Show on May 6 encouraged a few callers to weigh in on the subject.
A Fat City fan from a different radio station, LaDonna Lonberger Sanders (of the Voodoo Kittens Road Trippin' Blues show on KKFI 90.1) sent me a recipe for the sandwich:
I don't remember ever eating one, but it sounds like it could be kind of delicious.
"This is from a guy who allegedly worked for King's Food Host in the
1970s," Sanders says. "For one sandwich, remove the crusts from two
slices of white bread, spread each slice with enough mayonnaise to coat
it. Put one slice of American cheese between the bread slices. Cut the
sandwich diagonally and freeze it. After the sandwich is frozen solid,
dip it in French dressing and coat it with crushed cracker crumbs. Freeze
again. When ready to eat, deep-fry the sandwich until it's golden-brown."