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Loretta's Tearoom

You usually consider the source when someone tells you about a restaurant. Joel at the University computer lab had been pushing Loretta's Tea Room on 26th and Park and I'd been switching the subject for months. So, to give my buddy, 72 year-old Kay,  a relief from Vietnamese food, we tried it.

It's in the basement of a residence for the elderly and seems more like a hobby with pretensions than a restaurant. Grey hair and palsy eats there plus miscellaneous middle aged  people off the street. It's not the sort of place you'd bring a date.

The tables all seem to have imaginary white tablecloths and when I asked for cream for my coffee the waitress brought it to me in a pitcher, While I was eating my chicken pot pie—which was great—I asked Kay to tell me stories about when they used to have cream pitchers.

She went me one better. She told me about the old Curtis Hotel and how during the late thirties they served soup, salad, entree, desert—served as courses. For a dollar. While the food was being served and afterward, Dick Long and his Orchestra played  "for your dining and dancing enjoyment" . This is all for a buck, remember.

Kay said that on all the walls were signs saying "WHERE THE GUEST IS KING."

The only place I remember with signs on the walls is the old Peacock Alley. It was a bar between the Black neighborhood off Olson Highway and the warehouse district on the north side of downtown Minneapolis. About five or six blocks from the Regal Tavern that everybody called "The Bucket of Blood. Wally used to play jazz at Peacock Alley and I used to go listen to him. God, he was a cooker. He was such a hot guitar player that I kept expecting him to get arrested for arson. And, there were king size signs on all four walls saying, "YOUR PISTOL IS NOT WELCOME" and no cream pitchers.