Remember Mister Donut?

This weekend my wife and I were rolling down the road, and somehow got to talking about doughnuts.  I know, there’s a shock!  I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that I’m watching my waistline and missing donuts.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I had one; It’s probably been 3 or 4 years.  I know it won’t surprise you that doughnuts have always been one of my weaknesses.

Having lived all over the country, I’ve never really had one favorite place to eat doughnuts, I’ve had many!  When I lived in Virginia Beach it was Krispy Kreme.  In Quincy, IL it was a local favorite called Dixie Cream Donuts.  And early on in life (in Cheyenne, WY I think) it was Mister Donut.  And that got me wondering about Mister Donut.  I hadn’t seen one in years.

Gone But Not ForgottenI remember hearing that they got taken over by Dunkin Donuts sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s.  I’m told that they used to have good coffee, but I don’t remember that.  I do remember that they had ice cold milk and some of the best jelly doughnuts around.  If I close my eyes, I can almost remember the last time I ate at Mister Donut.  It was in Lynchburg, VA back in about 1984 or 85.

So naturally once we got home I had to do some research into Mister Donut to exactly what happened.  Who knows, maybe I’d find a tribute site.  I couldn’t find one, but did find out that they actually still exist…. in Japan and the Philippines.  I guess I won’t be making a doughnut run to Mister Donut anytime soon…. Although, it would be a pretty cool trip!

Love That SignWhile searching the internet for info about Mister Donut, I did come across this great picture of a now long gone Mister Donut. Thanks to Darren Snow for posting it on his Flickr site.  Click on the pic to see it full size in Darren’s album.  Sweet memories!!

Shuttered Stores

For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated with dead and dying shopping mall and retail outlets. Having worked in retail when I was in my teens might play into it, but I’m not sure.

When I have free time, I can get lost for hours online looking at sites like Dead Malls and the Sick Malls Blog.

It always surprises me when a major retailer shuts down one of their locations. Most, if not ALL of them do research on locations to make sure that there will be enough traffic to justify building there.

Lately, because of the economy I’ve seen a lot more locations shutting down and boarding up. Sometimes it’s due to a company going bankrupt (like The Cooker) but a lot of times it’s just the thinning of the herd. Here’s a few pics of some former restaurant/retail locations:

Waffle House

Waffle House

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme

The Cooker

The Cooker

Jack In The Box

Jack In The Box

Missing The Cooker

I don’t mean for this blog to be about food, but since it is a blog about my thoughts and observations it’s only natural that food comes up often.

Today in Nashville it’s almost 100 degrees and with the humidity it currently feels like 111 degrees. So…. why am I craving soup? My minds works in strange ways like that. But, I’m not just craving any soup, I’m craving soup from a restaurant that’s been out of business for a few years now.

For some reason I’m craving the potato cheese soup from a restaurant called The Cooker.  The Cooker was a regional restaurant chain that had locations in Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan and a few other states.  It was known for hearty portions of comfort food like meatloaf and pot roast (2 of their specialties) that tasted like home cooking.  It started in the 80’s, but I don’t think I discovered it until I moved to Ohio in the mid 90’s.  And while the meatloaf and post roast were extremely good, the potato cheese soup was out of this world!

For some reason, I’m in love soup.  Some of my favorites include the chicken tortilla soup from Max & Erma’s, the homemade baked potato soup from Cheddar’s, the beer cheese soup from a restaurant called the 356th Fighter Group in North Canton, OH (near the Akron-Canton regional airport) and of course the potato cheese soup from The Cooker.

The story of The Cooker is a classic tale; restaurant chain gets popular, begins to expand, goes public, expands too fast, economic slowdown happens, owners try to fix their problems by changing everything, patrons stop coming, chain files bankruptcy, they try to come out of it, they close.

In fact, I remember hearing the news the day The Cooker closed all of its’ locations in 2004.  They never even told the staff in advance.  People showed up for their shifts only to find the doors padlocked and a note on the door explaining the closure.

I’m not the only person who loves/loved The Cooker’s potato cheese soup.  Do a search on the internet, and you find lots of message board posts of people searching for the recipe or something similar.  I’ve been search for a few years too, but to date no luck.  I don’t think anyone has even been able to come up with a copycat recipe.  So for now, I’ll keep search… and dreaming.

Do you know anyone who has a recipe?  I’m ready to throw a batch together… even if it is almost 100 degrees out today!