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April 24, 2022

35 Vintage Postcards of American Cafeterias in the 1950s and ’60s

The American cafeteria started in 1885, when a New York self-service restaurant opened, or in 1893, when a Chicago restaurateur named his business a “cafeteria” (actually Spanish for “coffee shop,” though the American version of the term is now in use around the world).

California’s cafeteria explosion began in 1905, when a restaurant boasting self-service advertised itself as “food that can be seen” and “no tips.” The idea was so popular that by the 1920s, some called L.A. “Sunny Cafeteria.”

The Industrial Revolution also spurred the cafeteria’s growth. A new class of workers had emerged who looked down on bringing steel lunch boxes to work. And unlike the saloons that offered free lunches, cafeterias were open to women.

By the 1960s, though, the popularity of McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants had rendered the stand-alone cafeteria to near obsolescence.

Here below is a set of vintage postcards that shows the inside of American cafeterias in the 1950s and 1960s.

Alabama. Britling on the Highlands Cafeteria at 2173 Highland Avenue, Birmingham

Arizona. Ferguson's Cafeteria at 3030 East Thomas Road, Phoenix

Arizona. Holiday House Cafeteria at 1145 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson

Arizona. Holland House Cafeteria, East Camelback Mall, Phoenix

California. Clifton's Brookdale terraced dining levels, Los Angeles

California. Clifton's Cafeteria, Eastland Shopping Center, San Bernardino Freeway at Citrus Ave., West Covina

California. Clifton's Cafeteria, Lakewood Shopping Center, Lakewood Blvd. and Del Amo, Between Pennys and May Co., Lakewood

California. Clifton's Cafeteria, Lakewood Shopping Center, Lakewood Blvd. at Del Amo, Lakewood

California. Clifton's Midtown Cafeteria at 685 South Hoover, just south of Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

California. Ontra Cafeterias at 4137 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles

Florida. Boulevard Cafeteria at 5084 Biscayne Blvd (U.S. Route 1), Miami

Florida. Driftwood Cafeteria at 101 34th Street South, St. Petersburg

Florida. Driftwood Cafeteria at 101 34th Street South, St. Petersburg

Florida. Driftwood Cafeteria at 101 Skyway Boulevard (Highway 19), St. Petersburg

Florida. Driftwood Cafeteria at 443-445 First Avenue North, St. Petersburg

Florida. Moore's Allapattah Cafeteria at 1500 N.W. 36th Street, on the way to the airport, Miami

Florida. S & S Cafeterias, Daytona Beach

Florida. S&S Cafeteria, Britton Plaza Shopping Center, Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa

Florida. S&S Cafeteria, Searstown Mall, Clearwater

Florida. Town House Cafeteria, Lake City

Georgia. S&S Cafeteria, Lenox Square Shopping, Atlanta

Illinois. Moorman Manufacturing Co. Cafeteria - East Room, Quincy

Indiana. Goodie Shop Cafeteria at 666 Ohio Street, Terre Haute

Missouri. Heritage Cafeteria at 1310 S. Glenstone, Springfield

Nebraska. Brandeis Cafeteria, Omaha

New Jersey. Woolworth Company Boardwalk Cafeteria at 1315 Boardwalk, Atlantic City

North Carolina. Bailey's Cafeteria, Cotswold Shopping, Charlotte

Ohio. Harvest House Cafeteria, Upper Valley Mall, Springfield

Oklahoma. Glass House Cafeteria and Dining Room, Will Rogers Turnpike, Vinita

Pennsylvania. Bonanza Sirloin Pit #811, Franklin

S&S Cafeteria, corner of Volusia and Palmetto Avenues, Daytona Beach

South Carolina. Bailey's Cafeteria in the Pinewood Shopping Center on Highway 176, Spartanburg

Tennessee. Mark Twain Family Cafeteria at 4320 Summer Avenue, Memphis

Texas. Countdown Cafeteria inside the Astrodome, Houston

Washington. Manning's Cafeteria and Buffet at 5505 15th N.W., Seattle


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