Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

The summer of Freaks and Geeks continues.  We had a bit of an hiatus due to overnight camp and then a family vacation got in the way of good TV.  We are enjoying it very much, even if the show often has Apatow-ian bursts of painful squirming comedy, like Sam walking through school wearing a Parisian night jumpsuit.  Ug.  I am proud to say I never tried to feather my hair like he did.

Anyway, before getting the new duds (meant both ways), Sam asked his dad for money to go shopping, and his mom started to plan to take Sam, including a stop at the Magic Pan.  Yes, the Magic Pan!  This led Mrs. Spew and myself to engage in a bit of reverie about this unique bit of foreign food in the malls of 1970's America and then we had to explain it to my daughter.  Foreign food is not so foreign to her, as we now have all kinds of options at the average American/Canadian mall.  Plus we live in the land of crepes, so the idea of a creperie in a mall is not so strange.  But it was to us back then.

And that led to a brief discussion of Shakey's Pizza.  What did they have in common?  Both chains got much attention for showing the making of the food.  You could see the automated crepe machine at the Magic Pan, and I do remember seeing pizza dough being tossed at Shakey's.  I think we first encountered Shakey's in Maryland, and my NY pizza-loving family was far from enthused.  I remember this as one of the first distinct moments as the family outlier--that I liked this pizza and the rest did not.  Just like they like wine and I drink beer. 

Anyhow, Magic Pan is gone, Shakey's has retreated to international waters plus California, Georgia and a few other places.  I am trying to remember a restaurant that sold spicy shrimp and sangria, but the name is eluding me now [update: Beefsteak Charlies!].*  What other restaurant chains have come and gone?  I am far less nostalgic about Arthur Treacher's except for its potential inspiration of the competing fish food chain in Fast Times:

So, the question to the readers: what chains do you fondly remember but cannot find anymore?

*  The wikipedia entry is pretty useful--I remember the all you can eat shrimp, but not all you can drink elements (I was usually a designated driver with my enormous 1971 Buick Elektra so I am not surprised that I don't remember that).  And the entry also reminded me that there was a location on the other side of the street from Mrs. Spew's office when she worked in NY while I was still in college.

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