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I'd've eaten at Grubmeyer's

When he was born in Germany, future one-stop shopping mogul Fred Meyer was named Fred Grubmeyer. His family moved to the U.S. when he was a toddler; he lived and worked in such places as New York City, Nome, Alaska, and Seattle; and after settling in Portland he started the downtown shops (selling groceries, canned goods, pharmaceuticals and more) that would grow into the major Northwest chain Fred Meyer. He was an early adopter of the concept of store brands, like My-Te-Fine canned goods and Fifth Avenue Candies. Also early on in his store career, he changed his name to Fred G. Meyer, for reasons that no one is entirely clear on anymore.

Meyer aggressively expanded and made his stores larger and more convenient, with more to offer customers, including in-store eateries. Fred Meyer's early sit-down restaurants, as I gathered from his recent biography, weren't all that good, until Meyer assigned his wife Eva to run them. He also sort of named the restaurants after her, calling them Eve's Buffet restaurants. Eve's Buffets were around for decades, part of Northwesterners' daily lives, though they were before my time. (Modern Freddy's stores do have deli sections, with seating. I've eaten in those.)

Learning about both this and his original name made me wonder what would have happened if Meyer had been ambitious another way and had also started opening diners, stand-alone eateries, maybe in Freddy's parking lots or on their own. Because he could have adapted his original name as a diner name, and, come on, Grubmeyer's could have been an awesome name for a diner. A diner chain could have used the same supply lines Meyer had for the stores, and could have been another way to get his brands out there. Maybe he would have resisted going back to the name "Grubmeyer" because maybe it'd dilute brand-name recognition; maybe instead call the diners "Meyer Grub"? I don't like that as much as Grubmeyer's but I'm not the hugely successful businessman.

I think about eateries a lot, I guess is what I'm saying.


Whale fluke
Chris Walsh

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