There is one remaining Woolworth lunch counter left

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So in the UK, Woolworths was a nondescript high-street store selling general crap, in Australia it is/was a supermarket, and apparently in the US it was a lunch counter. Are they connected?


One of my earliest and favorite memories is going to the luncheonettes in my area with my grandfathers.


the US ones sold lots of general crap, and also had a restaurant/lunch counter. it’s a wonderful thing to know that there is one functioning one left – i thought they were long gone! i used to love going to when the last one in Reno for lunch. when it was closing, i swiped a knife embossed with the Woolworth’s logotype on it. i use it as a letter opener. i kind of feel like i should go to Bakersfield and return my pilfered knife to its rightful home.


Just to confuse things, they also branded as Woolco.


Two Woolworth’s lunch counter memories.

There was a Woolworth’s in Glen Cove, down the road from where I grew up. Close enough to go to buy models and such. It had a lunch counter up until the early 80s.

Twice, when I was a kid, I wandered over there for a banana split. They had a deal for these. There was a string of inflated balloons along the top of the rail that ran over the counter. Each balloon contained a slip of paper with price written on it . . . “Free to $1.00” as I recall. You could either pay $0.50 for the ice cream sundae or take your chance with the balloon.

On both occasions, the aged counter attendant (who took orders and fried up your sandwiches or what-not) popped the balloon for me, showed me the slip showing a price for 0.46. "That's .50 for tax. So you saved four cents!" It sounded kind of rote, suggesting that a lot of the paper slips had $0.46 written on them.

Decades ago, when the Woolworth’s chain in America was shutting down: I was driving near Garden City, LI when I heard a NPR show about food and eating. The hosts talked about the venerable Woolworth’s lunch counter, its place in history (sit-ins down south) and its upcoming end.

I remembered that there was a Woolworth’s in the Roosevelt Field mall. I went to have lunch there. It turned out to be there last day!

Grilled cheese on rye bread (all thy had left) with a side of cole slaw.

They wouldn’t let me take a menu. I should have just swiped it.



I find it interesting that department store lunch counters never had the renaissance that diners did in the ~90s. I remember when there was still a lunch counter in the Woolworths at Laurel Plaza


In the US and Canada, Woolworths and their competitor Kresge’s were the lower-end department stores of their day. Kresge’s later morphed into Kmart.

After a morning spending your nickels and dimes, where else would you go for a hot beef sandwich and a milkshake?


I remember when the K-mart in Wheaton Plaza still said “Kresge’s” on some of the more permanent fixtures like the door handles. And there was a “Hot Shoppe’s” cafeteria across the mall.


What I remember most about Woolworth’s was the florescent colored drink machines (one side chartreuse and the other orange, usually) and the cheap makeup. Also, there was a smell on the clothes – machine oil – because their stuff almost certainly was made by semi- or legit-slaves in factories in non-industrialized countries, at a time when that wasn’t the norm.

Longest lunch counter of any place that had a lunch counter.


The Peaches in New Orleans is planning on reopening theirs too!

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I learned something today. Always wondered where the name of KMart came from. Id heard in passing old stories from older family members of Woolworths and Kresgies, so this makes sense.

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When I worked at Kmart in high school, we’d occasionally find old fixtures or items in the back room with “Kresge’s” on them. We still had a very dated-looking Kmart Cafeteria when I started, but they were all swapped out for Little Caesars chain wide.




The Kresge’s in my hometown used to have a lunch counter, as did the Woolworth’s the next town over. Both of them folded back in the 80s. When I moved to Hawaii, up until the late 90s, there were still Woolworths open on at least 3 of the islands, still with lunch counters; we ate dinner at one in Hilo. I still have pillow covers I bought at the Honolulu Woolworth’s. There was also a Kresge’s knockoff called Cornet on Oahu.


I remember eating at the Woolworth’s in Byrd Plaza, Cocoa Florida. My first exposure to curly fries. We used to buy those little styrofoam rubber-band powered planes with WW2 livery on them. I was born in 1984 so it must’ve been around 1990.

I worked there for 4 years, and once performed a version of this timeless classic:

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It sounds like you aimed too low. The folks in Bakersfield swiped the whole thing, and are using it as a diner.


And Kresge College at UCSC was endowed by the K-Mart money, which is funny since Kresge is (was anyway) the most left-wing college even by UC Santa Cruz standards.