Lunchtime Tourist

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July 25, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Goodfellow's

40 S. 7th St.

Long before Goodfellow's began winning awards for its cuisine, people poured into this prime Downtown location for another type of entertainment - motion pictures.

The Saxe Theatre opened in 1914 and was Downtown's first theater built specifically for movies. A dramatic terra cotta facade featured a broad arch festooned with decorative line work, garlands and muses. The Spanish Renaissance style interior was filled with mahogany walls, marble stairs and leather seats. The most luxurious theater in the city, it held 1,600 people and cost $150,000 to build. Within a few months of opening, the theater changed to The Strand and it survived for 16 years.

The Strand's final curtain fell in the late 1920s. In '29, a nationwide cafeteria chain bought it, poured $275,000 into renovation costs and transformed the vast interior space into an Art Deco extravaganza called the Forum Cafeteria. During its peak years in the mid-1950s, the cafeteria served 8,000 people a day! The house special: chicken potpie, cost 37 cents.

Art Deco burst onto the scene in the 1920s along with the jazz era. Geometric, glitzy, machine-inspired designs were prevalent on architecture, product design, clothing and jewelry. Patterns covered all surfaces and stepped-back or zig-zag shapes were indicative of the style. The Forum featured back-painted glass, etched-glass chandeliers and hand-painted mirrors depicting local scenes.

The Forum served its last scoop of Jell-o salad in 1975. After many battles between preservationists and City Center developers, the restaurant was packed up, stored and reassembled after construction. (The Beaux Arts theater facade is rumored to be in boxes at an unknown location). Although there were several other Art Deco Forum cafeterias in the country, this is the only interior that remains.

Bonus trivia: George Draper Dayton opened Goodfellow's Dry Goods store on 7th & Nicollet in 1902. The shop evolved into Dayton's (now Marshall Field's) and lives on as the namesake of this restaurant.

LUNCH TIP: $10 lunch specials make Goodfellow's an affordable noontime escape.

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