A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 11, 2009

A “luncheonette” was originally a small meal (a light lunch) that was served at drug stores, expanding the soda fountain service. “Luncheonette” is first cited in print in January 1906, from Des Moines, Iowa, where it was stated that “Mr. L. L. Waters…originated the luncheonette.”
By about 1913, “luncheonette” had gone from meaning “a small lunch” to “a place that serves small lunches”—its current meaning. The term “luncheonette” is dated, but is still used.
Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Main Entry: lun·cheon·ette
Pronunciation: \ˌlən-chə-ˈnet\
Function: noun
Date: 1913
: a small restaurant serving light lunches
(Oxford English Dictionary)
orig. U.S.
small restaurant or snack bar serving light lunches.
1924 Public Opinion 11 July 31/2 Luncheonettes supply icecream soda and a ham sandwich.
1930 J. O. DAHL (title) Soda fountain and luncheonette management.
1939 C. MORLEY Kitty Foyle viii. 74 Sparta’s, a Greek candy and luncheonette a block farther up Main.
1959 New Statesman 24 Oct. 534/3 They sleep late, meet on the corners, drift in and out of the poolrooms and the luncheonettes.
1969 New Yorker 20 Sept. 38/2 A luncheonette, where a couple of young men in shirt sleeves sat hunched over the counter eating..noodle soup.
10 January 1906, Des Moines (Iowa) , pg. 4, col. 4 ad:
Mr. L. L. Walters, lately with J. W. Hess, is now in charge of our soda fountain. Mr. Walters, who originated the luncheonette, is the man who made soda fountain luncheons so universally popular because of their dainty satisfying qualities. Hewill serve all of the latest hot, cold and fancy egg drinks here daily.
13 May 1906, Des Moines (Iowa) Daily News, pg. 14, col. 1:
Have you got the luncheonette fad? Does the drug store sandwich habit draw you away from your office at the noon hour? Well, if you haven’t, most every one else has.
For the drug store luncheonette fad is all the rage in Des Moines nowadays.
Papers Past
22 April 1907, Wanganui (New Zealand) Herald, pg. 7, col. 4 ad:
Just light, homely Luncheons such as are supplied daily at
30 August 1910, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. 11 ad:
25c Luncheonette
11 A. M. to 5:30 P. M.
(The Greater Olds-Wortman-King Store—ed.)
15 April 1911, Charleroi (PA)

, pg. 2, col. 2:
Isn’t it the limit? It used to be dinner, then it changed lunch then to luncheon, and now it is luncheonette. The fellow who eats the luncheonette gets about as much as a nibble of something like real grub.
22 February 1913, Loganswport (IN) Journal-Tribune, pg. 10, col. 5:
The W. H. Porter Co. drug store has added a “Luncheonette” to their soda fountain section, and beginning today will serve hot lunches of a light but appetizing kind during the day and evening. Competent help will have charge of the cooking and serving. The “Luncheonette” has proven a big success in many city drug stores as it affords enjoyable refreshments in inviting surroundings at small expense. Logansport people are invited to try the Porter “Luncheonette.”
18 November 1913, New York (NY) Times, pg. 13:
How is the help of a soda-fountain and luncheonette department charged, such as waitresses, cooks, etc., to expense or merchandise?
26 November 1914, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, pg. 8:
With the installation of a luncheonette cabinet at T. Ed. Litt’s emporium, the restaurant business becomes a permanent feature of the American drug store. So many departments have been added to ye ancient apothecary shop that it is time a new name was being found for it. The dry goods store has become the department store, but a drug store is still called a drug store. It is interesting to speculate on the probable expansion of these institutions. They may in time absorb the berger ship, as some of them already have absorbed the tobacco store, the news stand, stationery store, the confectioner’s shop, and poached upon dozens of other businesses.
The luncheonette cabinet is said to be the first one installed in southern Arizona. Los Angeles has nothing on Tucson now, this being the only innovation needed to place the desert metropolis on a par with the coast metropolis.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Coffeehouses/Food Stores • Tuesday, August 11, 2009 • Permalink

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