Friday, June 23, 2017

South Belt Spot: Piccadilly Cafeteria at Almeda Mall



May 31, 1965 a letter arrived at the Houston Foley's office of President Dundas, from W.A. Richards of Piccadilly Cafeterias, expressing interest in locating what would be their fourth cafeteria in the Houston area at Almeda Mall. If you check the store list along the left, they were already in Gulfgate, Northline, and had a stand-alone store at Long Point Road in Houston.

An ad from 1963 only listed Gulfgate and Northline, but you can appreciate those prices.


3 years after the letter, Piccadilly opened October 10, 1968, with an ad in the Houston Post


"Island driftwood tables, antique white chairs upholstered in cyclamen pink, deep pile luxurious carpeting, make for a truly elegant atmosphere . . .

10 choice meats
14 vegetables
25 garden fresh salads
6 homestyle hot breads
15 delectable desserts

There is the special SATELLITE platter for junior astronauts for only .49 cents.

Be sure to put Piccadilly Cafeteria on your "must visit" list when you shop at the beautiful, new, all enclosed Almeda Mall"


When I located these photographs from the Bob Bailey files, a wave of nostalgia washed over me.

The cut-outs in the ceiling with the stained glass
That raised pink and green artwork that looks like a door mat
The gargoyle, monkey-man (depending on who you ask) light holders down the line (often where smokers would leave their butts)
That painting.


He painted some 62 versions in all.
And, the lion's face in the Almeda Picadilly one definitely resembles the painter himself.

and don't forget that phallic pink and green wallpaper


a snap from the 1969 Dobie yearbook, wallpaper at left

For decades, it was the place to be for lunch after Sunday services for many, many families. 
One of the cashiers worked there for even longer, until they shuttered their doors and she moved over and still cashiers at the Luby's across the Gulf Freeway.

Everyone had their favorites. 

Mine was chicken fried chicken, two bowls of mac and cheese, fried okra, and coconut cream pie.


A quick poll of the Facebook group:
















And others have posted fond memories of the place in other threads








The cart ladies roving through the tables to refill and provide take-home boxes.


(1984 Baytown Sun advertising)


One of the first times I returned to the area after a long absence, in 2009, I snapped these two photos:


The little stained glass is still in place and the floor hadn't been replaced/repainted. 
The little green coffins abide.

In 2012. Eddie S. posted several photos on Yelp 

The entry way, closed in with an additional door



Eddie S. and I share side dish affinities: okra and mac & cheese!

Goodness, I think I preferred the original carpet!


People reported it being closed at odd hours in those year.



And on June 15, 2014, Piccadilly closed it doors for the final time.





They still operate 44 locations in Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, & Virginia. And they still make all their dishes fresh on site at each place.



And their history reaches back to WWII:




(click on the link above to keep reading more)










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