But even these smaller businesses offered something to eat. Take, for example, the long-razed Ormond Hotel, which once sat on the southwest corner of Linwood and Troost. Back in the 1920s, the seven-story building had Bodine's Drugstore on the ground level, where a youngster named Walt Bodine helped his parents work behind the counter, serving up grilled sandwiches and blending thick chocolate malts and phosphates.
The Ormond Hotel was managed by the prissy Teagarden sisters. ("They were a little hard to get along with," Bodine recalls. "God forbid if we ever fried onions on the grill the phone would start ringing immediately.") On an upstairs floor, they also ran a formal restaurant with white tablecloths and genteel dinners. "We went up there every once in a while, when my parents wanted a real meal," Bodine says.
Those real meals were modestly priced compared with what waiters were serving in those days at the President Hotel's fancy Walnut Room, which shouldn't be confused with the upscale dining room of the same name at the Hotel Phillips (106 West 12th Street). The Hotel Phillips opened in 1930, four years after the President, but still called its deluxe dining area the Walnut Room. To avoid having customers go nuts, the Hotel Phillips eventually dubbed its dining room the Sir Loin Room, completing its décor with a suit of armor. In the 1960s, Bodine hosted a daily radio show from a table in the restaurant. Fittingly, the Sir Loin Room was reborn as the Walt Bodine Steakhouse in 1989; when new owners took over the hotel 11 years later, they changed the name first to Platters, then to the Phillips Chophouse.
Fans of veteran journalist Bodine (on whose KCUR 89.3 show, it should be said, I am a regular guest) would like to see his name on another restaurant someday, but I'd rather the former teenage soda jerk was honored with a namesake malt shop. After all, there are a lot fewer malt shops than hotels in town these days, too.