Restaurant Thanksgiving dinners for around $ 2? It was Riverside in 1959 – Press Enterprise


I fully admit that while I love to eat Thanksgiving dinner, I don’t like to prepare or cook that “Super Bowl” meal.

It seems I’m not the only one feeling this, now or over 50 years ago. In 1959, the Riverside Daily Press included a page full of ads for Riverside area restaurants that were happy to cook for Thanksgiving.

To give these establishments a little extra boost, the newspaper included a small article at the top of the page, titled “Thanksgiving Dine-out Tactice Offered to Wives.” It started off by suggesting the reader imagine themselves at Thanksgiving, wearing their best dress and highest heels, possibly with a bodice over one shoulder. The press then set the scene, describing a table with a snowy tablecloth and shiny tableware. He goes on to suggest that “you” could sip an aperitif as conversation flowed around you and tasty smells assailed you… all possible at any of the gastronomic establishments advertised in the press!

The newspaper tried to seal the deal by telling its female readers that every chef should have a Thanksgiving “home” and when the family sees the gleam in your eyes when you mention the Thanksgiving outing, “they will buy into the plan. at once. ” If that doesn’t work, the press has suggested telling your family you’ll cook if they do the dishes.

For women whose plan to eat out was working, several choices were advertised.

The Mission Inn served a traditional meal from noon to 8 p.m. The Copper Penny at Riverside Plaza offered dinner with all the trimmings for $ 1.99 and you could dine in its “quaint atmosphere”. The Silver Bell on Magnolia Avenue in Arlington advertised that it was a family-owned restaurant where no alcohol was sold, which it felt was important to include in the ad. Kids’ plates at the Silver Bell were just $ 1.99, and adult turkey dinners were just $ 2.50, “with all the trimmings.”

Many people remember Pitruzzello on La Cadena Drive. It also served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, along with its usual Italian specialties. For those looking for a little musical entertainment with their turkey and dressing, Surrey was the place to go. The Surrey, at the corner of Beatty Drive and Magnolia Avenue where Papa John’s Pizza is today, advertised that Harold L. Waycott, its organist, would play your favorite old tunes all day and night while you dine.

With publicity that could make even a person very hungry today, Ross Browning’s White Sands Steak House on Elizabeth Street has gone all out. For $ 2.50 per person (kids cost $ 1.25), you received three lessons. The first consisted of a glass of sherry or port, celery and olives, a salad of pears and cottage cheese, and a chicken consomme with rice. The second course was turkey and dressing, offal sauce, whipped potatoes or candied yams, strawberry applesauce, buttered peas and hot rolls. Finally, you can finish your meal with a pumpkin pie, ice cream or sherbet. The meal was also accompanied by coffee, tea or milk.

Here, I hope all the women who wanted to go out to eat on Thanksgiving in 1959 got their wish, fancy dresses, high heels, bodices and everything.

If you have an idea for a future Back in the Day column on a local historic person, place or event, contact Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson at

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