It is 2:30 in the afternoon. I am driving out West Main Street in Troy. As I go by McDonald’s, I notice the double drive-through line wraps all the way around the building. I continue on my trip, out over the highway, and pretty soon I look over and see Chick-fil-a. The cars in the double drive through wrap all the way around the building.
What are all these people eating at 2:30 in the afternoon?
Way back when I was growing up, this sort of thing didn’t happen in Troy. In fact, there was no McDonald’s in Troy. There were a few fast food places – Burger Chef, Burger Man, Arby’s and the Hojo Junction, which was located where McDonald’s is now, come to mind. Oh yes, there also was a burger place called Scotty’s on Weston Road. There were some girls in our class who worked there, so we’d show up when they were working. The burgers, however, were awful.
In fact, there are hardly any restaurants left in town that were around when I was in high school.
There is K’s, of course, which has been here since about the dawn of time. There also is Ording’s, where my best friend and I would go on Friday night after driving around town looking for something to do. It was always a ham and cheese deluxe or maybe a steak sandwich with cheese. Forty years later, you can still get the same thing there.
There’s still a Cassano’s in town, although it has moved so many times it’s hard to keep up with it. Cassano’s used to be in the Sherwood Shopping Center. When I was growing up, getting a pizza there was a major event. Now you can get a pizza on every corner in town.
But most of the other places are long gone. My family’s favorite place was the Helen of Troy Restaurant at the Trojan Motel on West Main Street. It was as close to fine dining as things got in Troy. I even had to put on good clothes to go there. We’d eat there maybe twice a year.
The other place to go was the Gables. Famous for steaks, I guess, although I hardly ever ate there. I remember going there in high school because I was supposed to be a good student or an athlete or something (I sure had somebody fooled). Just down the road was the Orchard Tavern, which is now El Sombrero. I remember places like the Gables and Orchard Tavern being dark places with lots of people at the bars.
All my other favorite haunts have disappeared. Dairy Queen? Gone. Isaly’s Ice Cream? Gone. Foss Way Ice Cream? Gone. I guess I ate a lot of ice cream back then.
The old root beer stand on 25-A has moved down the road and the one that was located across from the baseball diamonds by Miami Shores is gone. As a matter of fact, the baseball fields are gone, too.
Older people would eat at Stager’s or the Flash downtown but those weren’t the kind of places high school kids would go. I certainly didn’t. They’re gone, too.
We would sometimes hang out at Donaleeo’s, a pizza place on 25-A where Frisch’s used to be. It’s long gone, too. A couple of friends and I would sometimes eat on Fridays before football games at the Empire Restaurant on North Market Street. It is now a church.
It just goes to show how hard it is to keep a restaurant going for more than a few years. Troy today has way more restaurants, and more really good restaurants, than it did when I was growing up. You pretty much had to go to Dayton in the old days to eat a really nice restaurant. Now, you have numerous choices in Troy. You also have a million chain restaurants where you can wait in the drive-through at any time of day.
That brings us back to West Main Street and how things change. I read a story recently how McDonald’s plans to change its drive-through culture. In the near future, you will be able to place your order and pay for it on your phone and someone will bring it out to you when you pull up at the store. No more lines around the block waiting to place your order.
I suppose if I live another 40 years, things will be entirely different (other than the fact they’ll have to put my hamburger through a blender so I can eat it with a straw). Meals delivered by drones, or more likely printed out on your 3-D printers in the dashboard of your car, which you won’t even have to drive because it will all be automated.
But I’m willing to bet that no matter how much things change, some things will survive. If you want a cheeseburger and a frosted malt or a ham and cheese deluxe, K’s and Ording’s will be there.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.