In 1953, Johnson City had 62 mostly “Mom and Pop” restaurants in the Johnson City area. Most were located within a short distance of the downtown Fountain Square area for the convenience of shoppers and workers.
I enjoy walking the streets of downtown Johnson City when everything is relatively quiet and peaceful, allowing me to reflect on the thousands of stores, from pre-Henry Johnson days to the present, which were once open for business.
The downtown Johnson City I fondly remember in the 1950s-60s was a lively place especially on Saturdays. Between 1962 and 1964, I was a full-time student at ETSU with a part-time job at Frick’s Music Mart (403 S. Roan).
The 2008 World Series has come and gone. Area residents mature enough to remember the Oct. 2-10, 1926 event may recall it for what happened in Johnson City rather than what transpired in New York and St. Louis. The Yankees and Cardinals squared off in a seven-day contest that concluded with the Gateway City taking the coveted crown four games to three.
My two previous Dutch Maid columns evoked additional responses from readers. The first came from Mike Burgner, nephew of the late Otto (nicknamed Ott): “Your article brought back many memories for me as I used to work for Uncle Ott. I wish that he could have read your article. I miss him and the Dutch Maid.”
I haven’t operated my Yesteryear Time Machine lately so let me crank it up and take us on a voyage to 1908 in downtown Johnson City, a municipality of about 7500 inhabitants. The sole purpose of the trip is to dine at Pardue’s Quick Lunch Counter at 239 E. Main. Take your heavy coat along; you will need it.
I received a note from John Salyer saying that my recent Dutch Maid Drive-In column made no mention of his family’s involvement with the restaurant. Mr. Salyer agreed to help me with a follow-up column.
The late Otto Burgner opened a memorable eatery about 1954 at 925 W. Market that he dubbed the Dutch Maid Drive-In. It quickly became a favorite of locals and handled the culinary needs of the area for 31 years.
In the mid 1960s, I became acquainted with George and Mary Parker, owners of the Dixie Drive-In Restaurant at 425 E. Main and occasional patrons of Frick’s Music Mart, where I had a part-time job. This restaurant was always one of my favorites, mainly because of their hamburgers with that special tasting sauce.