Wednesday, April 02, 2008

last night logan ryan smith, who i think spent several years of his childhood here in sac, wrote about his memories of a cheap-ass, trash steak house chain that was based in fresno. a quick google search and i found a pic of the happy steak tray. as a child i loved the place. because it was cheap, and because it was steak, my parents took us there all the time. i recall the baked spuds as being utterly delicious and each steak was garnished with a plastic tine label with either 'rare', 'medium rare', 'well done' and so on.

happy steak was the poor man's sizzler where any sort of pretensions were whittled down to a baked potato, steak, cheese bread [fantastic!] and fountain drinks served in red plastic tumblers. another treat was the endless supply of oily - because we're talking about the '70s here these crackers were baked in a kind of oil and were not light, you didn't go to a steakhouse if you wanted to eat healthy - rye krisp crackers placed at every table.

the store we frequented is located on arden way, a major artery that sweeps past the arden fair mall. directly across the street - and this is in answer to logan's query - was indeed a carl's jr, which is still there. so is the happy steak building but it is now a chinese buffet. happy steak closed down in the late '80s. my first serious girlfriend worked as a waitress at happy steak for a few months.

even tho i've not eaten meat in close to 20 years i still love the place. what i miss the most was the cheese bread. it was a small, totally unpretentious restaurant and i can still see in my mind's eye the lay-out of the tables, the line cooks and the corridor where the wait staff would gather our orders. and yes, logan, as i recall the interior was wood-paneled, but i have to check with my brother whose memory is greater than mine.


At 11:27 AM, Blogger Logan Ryan Smith said...

man, i couldn't find any happy steak stuff thru google images. wonder what i did wrong. but i totally remember those trays, now, and maybe in my head i remember the H as something similiar to the carl's jr. star. but, then again, i probably did go to that happy steak next to carl's jr.

anyway, this:

"my first serious girlfriend worked as a waitress at happy steak for a few months."

sounds like the beginning to a good short story.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Logan Ryan Smith said...

oh, and i lived in sacramento till i was 12.

anyway, i think i'm going to have to haunt ebay now until i can land me a set of these nifty happy steak trays.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Catalin said...

I love your description of your happy happy steak memories. The logo is completely familiar to me, although my family didn't ever go out to eat when I was a kid (later, when I was a teen and there was more money and the beginning of the slide away from health food had begun, we would get Little Caesar's pizza to go--two for the price of one!). Still, I must have seen the signs. The image is so corny, it's like a spoof of itself.

Remind me some other time to write about my baked potato rituals when I was a kid. Hey, a theme for a series of poems or stories: childhood food memories. Maybe it already exists?

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Mark said...

You guys might like my chapbook "29 Cheeseburgers" from Pressed Wafer which deals with childhood (as well as adolescent and adult) food memories, and many East coast eateries which appear analogous to the Happy Steak.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure this article is very old, but I just wanted to send my thoughts on this submject out to the universe. I worked as a waitress at Happy Steak in Novato, CA for a couple of months. Seeing the tray and listening to the description brought me back to a place I never go anymore (but from the safety of Boston). Thanks!

At 5:49 AM, Blogger Sac Chef said...

There used to be a Happy Steak here in Salinas Ca, Its was the only restaurant my dad would be willing to go to lol. I rember it being really gud, and gud memories .


Post a Comment

<< Home