ToquiNotes: The Deceased Restaurant Memory Lane

By Jeff Toquinto on September 09, 2017 from ToquiNotes via

If there’s one thing that our analytics show us on Connect-Bridgeport is that if there’s mention of anything relating to a new eating establishment in the city, folks are interested. Actually, if there’s a mention of a new eatery, folks are REALLY interested.
Stories involving new restaurants all result in heavy traffic to the Web site. While we know the populace is interested in the new eateries, I thought I’d devote my blog to some of the eateries no longer with us here not only in Bridgeport, but a few of my favorites from Clarksburg as well. And please note this is an updated blog from more than five years ago that incorporated many restaurants readers mentioned that I was either remiss in mentioning that I actually enjoyed and some that have bit the dust since then.
As one might imagine, my time for eateries only go back so far. Because of that, I again would ask anyone that recalls some other places for some good chow to please comment at the end of the article. That way, everyone who connects with Connect will be able to recall some of those fine and perhaps not so fine eateries.
You may also notice several of these I've blogged about seperately.
And remember, these are MY favorites. I’m sure I’ve left some of your favorites out and I’m sure there are plenty more than were before my time so, as mentioned above, please provide as much feedback (no pun intended) a possible.
Here we go:
Soup and Such: Perhaps one of my favorite places to hang out in Bridgeport for lunch during some of my earlier Bridgeport-related journalism days. As the name suggested, the soup was pretty top notch, but that’s not what I miss most about this place. The service and banter was unique and witty and once you got to know everyone – which didn’t take long – everyone was fair game. Located first at the area where Gourmet Café and then it expanded where Provence Market is today.
Ming Garden: To this day, my all-time favorite Chinese buffet. Located where Home Depot is today, the area’s smallest Chinese buffet – to me – was also the best. I recently did a blog on this by itself and nearly 10,000 people clicked on it.
Hill’s Department Store: Many may not remember that they actually had a restaurant at one time and during Labor Day offered 10 cent hot dogs and 5 cent drinks. The hot dogs were OK, but was there anything better than a Hills Frozen Coke, a pretzel and a bag of popcorn? It’s been closed for some time now and it’s still the absolute best popcorn I’ve ever had.
Durango’s: Might not have that spelled right, but the business located where WesBanco is now situated along U.S. Route 50 was my very first experience with Mexican food – and it was a good experience. Not only do I miss the food, but I miss the guy standing outside with a sombrero trying to lure in customers.
Showbiz Pizza: Just over the Hill at Eastpointe, everyone needed a Showbiz/Chuck E. Cheese experience. I had plenty; and enjoyed the video games that were there as well.
Pizza Man: With Pizza in mind, anyone remember this little gem that was situated at Hill’s Plaza? I certainly do. Back in the day when finances were more than just tight, the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza and salad buffet – with a glass of water – couldn’t be beat.
Captain D's: My memory is somewhat vague here, but I remember eating there as a kid in the area where Wilson-Martino Dental is located. Not so vague is the fact that I know I liked it and still love batter-dipped fish and chips to this day. I actually thought it was Arthur Treacher's, but was reminded I was incorrect.
The Italian Oven: Brick oven pizza lovers got just what they desired from this restaurant also located across the city line in Eastpointe. Incredible pizzas, and pretty good pasta as well.
The Canteen: Do I really need to explain? 
Shoney’s: Well, it’s now 0-for-2 as the most recent edition in Clarksburg’s Eastpointe folded. However, long before that location opened shop there was a long-time successful run right beside Pizza Hut. A Sunday morning church service followed by a trip to Shoney’s for the breakfast buffet was hard to top.
Cactus Jack's: Before he opened this jewel up above the Nathan Goff Armory in Clarksburg, Ron Gilmore ran Durango's Mexican restaurant in Bridgeport. Both were fantastic, but it was Catcus Jack's where I fell in love with most of the menu, including burritos the size of a suitcase, steak fries and the best ranch dressing of all fries.
Nicki's Pizza: Right there in the turn on Main Street as  you head past McDonald's in downtown Clarksburg going up toward the city. The pizza was good - real good - and they also featured a game room for this arcade-loving youngster back in the day.
Ponderosa: Right beside Burger King below the Meadowbrook Mall sat one of the great feeding troughs of all time. The $3.99 lunch buffet – or $4.59 special plus buffet – offered me and my friends a feeding frenzy. And for .60 cents more, you could take home that special for dinner that evening.
Damon’s: Just about the time I discovered the half-price 4 p.m.-6 p.m. appetizers, word came out that Damon’s was closing. Great ribs and a desert called Chocolate Decadence that was to die for. A followup location in Morgantown didn't survive.
Snap’s: Long before I ever heard of White Castle, Rally's, Checker’s or even Sonic, this little drive through situated where Eat n’ Park is now located had incredible, well-priced hamburgers. I believe the O'Mara family had this gem as well in their restaurant portfolio.
Jim Reid's: I never ate here until my mid-20s and the seafood and meals at this Nutter Fort location was as good as advertised. The salads, which live today with the Margeret's dressing at the same building housing the FOP, were incredible as well. The high end on the price scale for my list, but worth every penny.
BQF: In the area where the Sheetz is located in Clarksburg, or maybe that Star Motor building, there was this steakhouse. It was about a once-a-year treat for our family and it offered - of course - a buffet that I was happy as a child to put a hurting on.
La Racherita: A quick shining star that fizzled too soon. Bonus points for anyone remembers this Mexican restaurant that was the second of two (the first being the less than memorable El Rodeo) that filled the old Canteen location before it became Dollar General. Great food, great prices and great service - and a waiter named Oscar who still ranks up with the former Judy of Canteen in my waiter/waitress hall of fame.
Burger Chef: Another in the O'Mara family line, they owned the local franchise and I'll never know how it went out of business. It offered the famous "works" bar where you ordered a plain burger or cheese burger (usually on special for .29 cents and .39 cents, respectively) and loaded up. 
That’s my list. I know there are others, and I hope to hear from you and perhaps revisit this with an even larger list in a few years. Have a good one, and enjoy your meal.

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