Friday, September 13, 2013

Attending a J.L. Hudson's Retiree's Luncheon

As you may recall from an earlier post, I'm working on a commemorative cookbook featuring Detroit's legendary department store, J.L. Hudson's, and its eateries/food service.  

This past Tuesday I was invited to attend the retiree's quarterly luncheon in an effort to gather information.

The luncheon was well attended.

They graciously gave me time at the podium to ask for Hudson's recipes, photos, dinnerware, memories, and contact leads to anyone who might have worked in the Food Service Division.

A couple of ladies had some Hudson's recipes they promised to send me - one was for butterscotch biscuits.  Don't they sound good?  The recipe arrived in today's mail.  Do you suppose they were served in the Mezzanine Tea Room?  I'm going to imagine they were!

One lady worked in the candy kitchen.

A retiree at my table said one of her favorite things to order from the 13th floor dining room menu was their shrimp salad on toasted cheese bread. 

Hudson's historian and author, Mike Hauser, brought me an article featuring a Grand Rapids, MI department store named Herp's [short for Herpolsheimer's] that he thought I'd enjoy reading. Guess what was featured at Herp's Tea Room?  Shrimp salad served on toasted cheese bread!  I learned that when the American Merchandising Corp. banded together they shared recipes, so stores had many of the same menu offerings.

Another interesting tidbit one of the retirees told me is that Diana Ross [MoTown 'Supremes' lead singer] was promoted from the basement cafeteria to the Mezzanine Tea Room.  She said Diana was always very friendly, and she and her friends were always glad when she was their waitress.  Wouldn't it be great if I could make contact with her for the book?  She was a high school student back then - long before she attained stardom.

Below is a photo of Wanda and me.  Wanda was an executive Hudson secretary, and I was told her career with the company began when she was just 13!  Everyone at the luncheon said Wanda was the one to see for information.  At this point however, she could only tell me their food was very good!  She had Hudson's recipe cards, but  gave them to her nieces, so she's going to ask for copies.  

The retirees have a newsletter, and they've committed to including something about the cookbook in their next issue.  I hope it will turn up some leads.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.


  1. Phyllis, it seems that you are making great progress on your book. Gathering research can be great fun, especially when you meet such lovely people who are so willing to be of assistance.

    I will look forward to hearing more about your quest to get those famous recipes from the Tea Room.

    Mary Jane

  2. Now this is absolutely wonderful, Phyllis! I'm already enjoying the stories you are learning, and the book is not even here yet!

  3. How wonderful...I am so proud of you!!! Your Iowa Cheerleader!!


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