An excellent view of Summers St in the mid 30s.
Click here for a much larger photo and enjoy
all the details
Summers Street at night circa 1960
Empire Diner in the 70s
is what's left of the Empire Diner. I took this shot in the mid
70s. The Empire was a favorite destination for many years,
and was one of several lunch-car diners that were actually built
in NY just for that purpose and shipped here by rail. One by one
however they disappeared. See another Diner HERE. Many people forget the "Shoneys
experiment". Alex Shoenbaum, the founder of Shoneys saw
the writing on the wall with the new fast food restaurants, and decided
to try it for himself. So he moved the old Shoneys Coffee Shop
from further up the block which had a lunch counter for sit-down eating....
and decided to try a cafeteria style "move down the line"
fast food place. I went to work for him in this new restaurant
as a counter "drink-guy" at age 15. The procedure
was to grab a tray, then move down the line getting your food and
drink and then paying. Like all Shoneys at the time, we
actually made fresh onion-rings daily here. I made a LOT of
onion rings, and these homemade rings are just one of the things
that took Shoneys to the top. Unfortunately, these rings
and many other items were later made off site and shipped-in.
That's when the downfall of Shoneys began. Today, they
are just another struggling chain in a sea of many.
Also still in this photo is the finest
movie theatre in Charleston... the Kearse, and by now the seedy
|Notable customers who have dined at
the Empire include Tokyo Rose, who stopped for a meal en route to a
court hearing after World War II. She had been held in custody at
the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs. Another personality to
stop at the diner was pianist Liberace, while in town for a show
This news article from Feb 4, 1976 talks
about the Trolly-Style cars that the Empire were made from, and how
they arrived by train in Charleston in 1940.
The Diners were built by the Ward & Dickinson
Dining Car Company of Silver Creek NY, and brought here on rail
D Dining Car Company
HERE'S ANOTHER SUMMERS STREET PHOTO FROM AROUND 1939-1940
|This photo shows lots of detail.
The name of the movie playing at the Kearse is "Wife, Husband
and Friend" which stared Loretta Young, Warner Baxter and Binnie
Barnes. It was a comedy. Sears is right next next door to the
Greyhound Bus Station, and in the background you can see a huge sign
for Budweiser Beer, and "Jacks Place". Also,
rooms at the Washington Hotel for $1 and up.|
See another great photo of Summers Street HERE
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