HORN & HARDART, Fulton Mall

By GARY FONVILLE
Forgotten NY correspondent

Downtown Brooklyn is going through many changes.  To a person who hasn’t visited the neighborhood in thirty years or so, it would be totally unrecognizable.  New buildings, mostly super expensive residential digs, are popping up like weeds there. And that doesn’t even include all the new hotels that tout in their advertising about how close they’re to Manhattan and how there are a myriad of subway lines to travel to Manhattan conveniently.

In my experience,  when I see a block with all or nearly all of its commercial properties boarded up, that means demolition is imminent and guess what?  A new building invariably sprouts up.  

 A block bordered by Fulton Street, DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, across from Junior’s Restaurant, fits this scenario. As happens often, this sign was discovered by accident by yours truly.  I saw it when I exited my car to go to that famous cheesecake emporium to purchase one of their decadent deserts.

This former neon sign for a Horn & Hardart store was covered by another sign and was only revealed recently when it was removed.

At age 65 I have no clear memory of Horn & Hardart. But I do know there was another H&H facility, a restaurant, on Fulton Street, between Pearl Street and Adams Street, with a rear exit on Willoughby Street.  It has only been about ten years since a H&H sign was removed from the present Burger King building..

Through my research on H&H, I found that their retail outlets sold prepacked items such as coffee.

If any of you FNY fans can share memories and experiences with us, please comment.

FNY Correspondent Gary Fonville was born in New Bern, NC on February 10, 1952 and graduated SUNY at New Paltzin 1975.  He has worked in the eductional field and for the NYCTA as a Bus Operator until October, 2003 when health issues forced him to be reclassified to the position as a TPPA (Transit Property Protection Agent). His hobby, photography, came about by being a contributor to FNY and snapping many photos in the process.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

9/20/17


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28 Responses to HORN & HARDART, Fulton Mall

  1. BobK says:

    This 83-year-old geezer delights in remembering the H&H chain, especially the East 42nd Street outlet near Grand Central. The temptation to push extra nickels and dimes into the slots next to dessert windows did nothing for my waistline, for which I still blame the firm. The food was reliably good, the facilities were clean, and the ambiance was strangely “modern”, an adventure in futuristic living.

  2. Punto says:

    Gary,

    Though, being born in 1950, I only have a couple of years on you, I was regularly coming into the city from Long Island, starting around age 5 and moved in for good in 1969, so I have vivid recollections of H & H, particularly the one on 57th Street, just to the east of Carnegie Hall, where I spend a few years working as an usher. I’m most anyone reading LNY on a regular basis who experienced the city in any decade up to the seventies would have similar warm feelings.

    For the details of this much missed institution, Wiki has this summary of the automat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horn_%26_Hardart

  3. Jeanne says:

    H&H were everywhere in NYC when I was growing up in the late 50s! It was essentially a cafeteria where sandwiches and desserts were displayed behind individual glass windows and you inserted coins to unlock the window for your chosen delight!

  4. Lisa Hurwitz says:

    Subscribe for updates on our Horn & Hardart documentary film in the making: http://asliceofpieproductions.com/subscribe/

  5. Al says:

    http://www.HornAndHardartCoffee.com still sells the original H&H famous coffee blend.
    At its peak, there were 97 H&H Automats, restaurants and retail shops in NYC. There were two in Brooklyn and five in Queens.

  6. Andy says:

    I remember the H&H chain very well, besides the signature Automats and Cafeterias. Retail shops were generally smaller stand-alone stores that sold prepackaged prepared dishes. There was one in the community on Long Island where I lived. I particularly enjoyed the creole noodles. And there was even a third level of H&H establishments – so called “waitress service restaurants” that were just that. No Automat or Cafeteria attached. Remember one in Flushing, Queens on Northern Blvd., and another at the Roosevelt Field Shopping Center (not Mall) when it was brand new, long before it was enclosed.

    • Dorothy says:

      There was also a small H&H retail shop at Green Acres Shopping Center in Valley Stream, L.I. in the very early 60’s.
      They carried packaged goodies, but I most fondly remember their blueberry pie and applesauce spice bars.
      THE BEST!

      • Cindy Rothfeld says:

        I remember the Green Acres location. We went there to buy their tapioca pudding. IIRC, there was also an Ebinger’s retail bakery, an eyeglass store, and a branch of the Dime Savings Bank.

  7. Joe Fliel says:

    Until last September 30th, a fortune teller operated out of that space in 4 Dekalb. The fortune teller was evicted and the joint was padlocked on the morning of October 1st. I bet she never predicted this when reading tea leaves.

  8. Jeff B. says:

    There was a Horn and Hardart store in the Bergen Mall in Paramus NJ. It was located approx where the mall entrance from the south lot at Whole Foods at The Outlets at Bergen Town Center is today. My family used to stop in there every so often. They sold a variety of foods with the H&H name including that amazing Mac & Cheese they had in the Automats. I’d beg my mother to buy a box or 2
    of this delicacy, sometimes I got lucky. As a kid I was lucky enough to have experienced the Automats quite a few times and always had the Mac & Cheese. To this day, I remember it as the best Mac & Cheese I have ever eaten!!

  9. Richard says:

    I had the chance to eat at the last H&H in Manhattan. It was…average.

  10. Dee says:

    I have truly fond memories of this store. It was around the corner from where me and my Mom would get the bus to return home from shopping “Downtown.” But before we caught the bus, we would go to the H&H retail shop to buy some goodies for home.

    They sold all the cakes and desserts that were served in the automat. I even remember small cups of baked beans.

    I am a few years younger than you, and like you I don’t remember much of the Automat itself. But
    I can still taste the fabulous rice pudding that was sold in the retail store – this was my favorite!

  11. ron says:

    As I remember, they sold food to prepare at home that was related to some of the dishes sold at the automat, plus H+H branded groceries.

  12. S. Saltzman says:

    Check out the movie” That Touch Of Mink” with Doris Day and Cary Grant. Good scenes in an Automat, from the front and back of the windows.

  13. PegLegGuy says:

    .
    .
    In Jackson Heights, 82nd St, near Roosevelt Ave.

    Great chocolate pudding!

    .

  14. P-j says:

    I grew up in the Elmhurst – Jackson Heights area of Queens in the late 1960’s and very fondly remember an H&H retail shop on 82nd Street near Roosevelt Avenue. There was also a Chock full o’Nuts lunch counter next to that. Everyone changing from the elevated 7 train to the many buses below frequented these shops. My family would take particular delight in the H&H chicken pot pies and the pumpkin pies in the fall. We always felt the H&H pumpkin pies were the very best prepared pies ever. We were devastated when H&H disappeared and we had to switch to Entenmann’s.

  15. Richard says:

    Let’s not overlook (even if we probably should) the Concerto for Horn and Hardart (S. 27) of P.D.Q. Bach:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT6bxlnS1Is

  16. Steve says:

    This 55 year old remembers an H&H Retail on the LIRR level of Penn Station, well into the 1970s. It was a “Hot and Crusty” up until last year. My recollection was an oven with whole roasted chickens– I guess for commuters to take home to dinner.

  17. NY2AZ says:

    There was a H&H retail store in Parkchester (Bronx) near the Loew’s American theater. I further recall a friend who gave me newborn guppies from his aquarium; I carried them home in a circular H&H container with a cellophane insert lid. In it’s time H7H ruled the comfort food universe.

  18. Andy Subbiondo says:

    My Dad and I used to visit the 42nd st. Automat on a semi-regular basis in the early 1950s. My nine y/o self thought the food was great. I especially liked the liverwurst on rye and the lemon cake. Right now my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

    A friend of mine is a fast-food franchisee. I told him that in the future robotized fast food joints might be like Automats. Since he’s over a decade younger than me he had no idea what I was talking about.

  19. ron says:

    My personal automat was on 34th near 7th in the Macy’s building. As I remember, you went down a few stairs into it. I think the entrance is still there, but converted to a store entrance. Spent most of a year working on 34th (about 1968) and ate there many days. Mac and cheese and lemon meringue pie were highly recommended.
    Nobody has mentioned yet that you needed change to operate the food windows, and there was a central change booth, like a token booth, where your dollars were changed into quarters and nickels (at least in 1968, probably nickels only in the 40’s). The dexterity and speed of the change makers was amazing. This was definitely pre change machine…..

  20. Larry says:

    I remember the large Automat on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn..The Only Automat in Brooklyn….looked just like the above ground H and H’s in Manhattan..Upstairs and down……Same great food, especially the Baked Bean crocks….

  21. William Mangahas says:

    Larry wrote “I remember the large Automat on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn..The Only Automat in Brooklyn….looked just like the above ground H and H’s in Manhattan..Upstairs and down…”

    I may have been at that same location since my dad and mom used to take me clothes shopping on Fulton St. when I was a kid. Yes, I have fond memories of the Automat and the novelty of plunking down some coins for a sandwich, desert etc.

    The Automat was one of a kind as far as I am concerned. Also Radio City Music Hall and old subway cars bring back memories too.

  22. Tommy Brill says:

    I remember being fascinated as a child by the delights which were magically apparent behind the glass doors. I also have a vague memory of “The Poor Soul” on The Jackie Gleason Show enduring many humiliations in one.

  23. Evan Cooper says:

    The best things about the “Less work for mother” retail shops (as the commercials used to call them) were the baked beans and creamed spinach. And while as a kid I didn’t drink coffee at the automats, I remember having delicious hot chocolate in cups so heavy and thick I could barely get my lips around the rim.

  24. Jim M says:

    I remember the H&H near the American Stock Exchange on Trinity Place. Loved the frank and beans

  25. Jeff G. says:

    When I was somewhere between 10-15 my dad took me to one at 42nd St. and 3rd Ave. In Manhattan (actually in the late 80’s/early 90’s the company where I was working at the time had their Xmas party in the (then closed) site. It then became a Gap. There also may have been one near 42nd and 6th Ave.
    I grew up in the Bronx on THE Grand Concourse (the best Street name in all the 5 boros) near 170th St. but I have no memory of any H and H automat or retail store in the Bronx. Does anyone remember one? We moved out of the Bronx in1962.

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