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Shrafft's Restaurants in New York, Boston, Philadelphia

by Philip Shaddock

The famous Schrafft's restaurant chain in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, was started by a Frank Garrett Shattuck (1860-1937), a descendant of the Groton Shattucks.  

From Wikipedia:


Menu from the 1964 New York World's Fair


Schrafft's was a chain of high-volume moderately priced New York restaurants connected to the Schrafft's food and candy business of Boston. It offered large, pleasant dining rooms "in the better areas" which often attracted ladies who were in these areas for shopping. Schrafft's restaurants had a lot of women lunch customers and it was said this was because they felt safe there, where, until later years, there were no standing bars. Schrafft's was one of the first restaurants to allow unescorted women on a routine basis. The dining rooms, which had tablecloths at dinner time, and later had separate standing bar areas, were supplemented by fountain service lunch counters, separate rooms in which were displayed for sale Schrafft's branded candy and ice cream, and various items such as wrapped gift baskets of fruit, candy and stuffed toys.

History

Schrafft’s began as a candy manufacturer in Boston but over time the company became a well-known restaurant chain as well. In 1898 Frank G. Shattuck, a salesman for the Schrafft company from upstate New York, opened a candy store at Broadway and West 36th Street in Manhattan, New York City. His sister, Jane Shattuck, was largely responsible for the introduction of light lunches into the stores. The first to serve food was the Syracuse store in 1906. By 1909 Jane introduced meals to the second New York City Schrafft’s, at 54 West 23rd Street in the heart of the Ladies' Mile shopping district. By 1927 there were 25 units, mostly in New York.


A Schrafft's restaurant at 5th Ave. and 13th St. in New York. The appearance of the first Schrafft’s restaurants is unrecorded, but by the 1910s Mr. Shattuck was working with Charles E. Birge, the favored architect of the Hearst real estate interests.

Schrafft’s was known for an air of gentility typical of the upper middle-class home. Cooks, supervisors, and even some executives were women. Menus of the 1920s and 1930s included many salads, more desserts than entrees, and vegetable selections such as creamed cauliflower and fried eggplant.

In an interview in The Times in 2004, Mr. Shattuck’s great-grandson Frank M. Shattuck said of the chain’s clientele: “Everyone wore hats and handmade suits. And if you were a lady, it was safe to sit at the soda fountain and drink gin from a teacup.”

Rent cuts in The Depression encouraged chain expansion, and by 1937 there were 43 Schrafft’s, primarily in metropolitan New York City, but a few in Boston and Philadelphia. The 1939 WPA Guide to New York City said Schrafft's had 38 locations in the metropolitan area, serving American home food. At its peak there were about 50 units in greater New York. In the late 1960s the Schrafft’s candy company was sold to Helme Products while Pet, Inc. took over the restaurants. Pet made a renewed effort to renovate Schrafft’s image and attract men. In 1981 the candy company ceased while the few restaurants remaining were in various hands.

From the New York Times obituary about Frank Garrett Shattuck II (1918-2008), the last Shattuck to run Schrafft's:

Frank G. Shattuck II, the last president of the company that owned Schrafft’s restaurants, a New York City-based chain that for decades offered home-style food in genteel surroundings to secretaries, errand boys, court clerks and others watchful of their wallets, died Saturday near his home in Bennington, Vt. He was 89.

His brother George confirmed the death.

Mr. Shattuck’s grandfather Frank G. Shattuck opened the first Schrafft’s restaurant in 1898, on the site of what is now Macy’s in Herald Square. As the Roman numeral attached to Frank G. Shattuck II’s name implies, “he was destined to be in the business founded by his grandfather,” George Shattuck said of his brother.

Mr. Shattuck II was the fourth president of the Shattuck Company.

Like his grandfather, Mr. Shattuck was meticulous about service — he regularly inspected the stores, as many as 55, including those in Boston, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Newark and Westchester County — and oversaw the menu.

Among the staples were lobster Newburg; stuffed breast of chicken with mushroom sauce; veal chop sauté; creamed chicken on toast; pan-browned roast beef hash; Irish-style apple rings; miniature meatballs; and, always, chicken à la king.

In the heyday of Schrafft’s, a lady could sit at the soda fountain sipping a martini, flanked by children of all ages digging into banana splits. From a glass case, a customer could buy a box of assorted chocolates.

Frank Garrett Shattuck II was born in Syracuse on Sept. 21, 1918, a son Frank M. and Genevieve Hannon Shattuck. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1941. A year later, he joined the Army Air Forces. Rising to captain, he saw action in Europe during World War II.

Mr. Shattuck joined the family business in 1946, first working behind a soda fountain in Manhattan. He was president when the company was acquired in 1968 by Pet Inc. Over the next 10 years, the restaurants were sold to interests that sought greater profitability in developing real estate than in running restaurants.

In 1945, Mr. Shattuck married Frances Kelly; his wife died in 2000. Besides his brother George, he is survived by another brother, Gerald; a sister, Eudora Watson; two sons, Frank III and Cornelius; five daughters, Frances Leta, Laura Chila, Susan Ide, Mary Shattuck and Margaret Shattuck; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.


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