When I was a little kid, Mom used to take me to the Forum Cafeteria in downtown Minneapolis for lunch. Sometimes we would meet one of her friends or it would just be the two of us.
“Mom, I want a hamburger. What do they call it here?” I would always ask, my nose barely reaching the counter while I pointed up at the tray of patties.
“Tell them you want ground beef,” Mom would say. It was a deliciously seasoned patty that came with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a vegetable.
“Make sure you order the Jell-O, too,” Mom would remind me. The Jell-O came in evenly cut squares, shaped like a brownie. They put the Jello-O in its own separate bowl. We carried our trays over to one of the little tables close to the cafeteria line and were able to see the front entrance. The place was always abuzz with clanking dishes and echoing conversations. It wasn’t only a good place to eat; it was a great place to visit to look at the Art Deco decor. The floor was black and white checkers, the lights sparkled down towards us, and the decorative mirrors surrounded us.
The Saxe Bros. of Milwaukee built the bulding in 1914. The Saxe Theater was intended to be the best theater in the country to watch motion pictures. By 1916, the theater name changed to Strand. Then by 1929, the Forum Cafeteria Co., of Kansas City, signed a lease and converted the space into a restaurant. The Forum Cafeteria was in business from 1930 until 1975. It re-opened under many different names after 1975, as a disco or other restaurants. An article in the StarTribune gives a good history of the places that tried to make a go of it after the Forum Cafeteria closed.
This photo was taken after a renovation.
Even though I appreciated the Art Deco at an early age, the best part of the experience was when Mom and I acted silly when we were eating lunch. It was the only place where we took mouthfuls of Jell-O squares and swished it around to make Jell-O soup. Even though the giggles escaped while we swished, we kept all that Jell-O inside.
Little memories like that can make your day a happy one.
Mom, when thoughts of you are in our hearts, we are never far from home.