A restaurant is a restaurant.
A drive-thru is a drive-thru.

But when it came to an actual quick 'lunch', you'd skip those two and head to a lunch counter, lunch room, or concession stand.

Restaurants are where you go to have a nice sit-down meal, talk with friends or family, and not be in a hurry to get anywhere. Drive-thru's are for one thing: people in a hurry. It doesn't matter too much what you get, as long as you don't have to get out of your car and you can eat whatever you order while you drive to or from work.

Personally, I'd rather eat lunch from a paper sack under a tree.

99.1 WFMK logo
Get our free mobile app

Now for the lunch rooms. When I think of a lunch room, I imagine a little room in a hotel or department store, where the ladies can congregate for a coffee klatch, cookies and tea, a light lunch, and talk. A tea room is almost the same thing, except they pride themselves on their many selections of tea.

In my mind, a lunch room means sandwiches, chips, and a Coke.
A tea room means tea and finger sandwiches.

1) Lunch rooms – or cafeterias - sometimes feature a buffet or salad bar.
2) Lunch counters can be found in department stores, soda shops, some restaurants, and bars.
3) A lunch – or concession – stand can be found almost anywhere: sports events, carnivals, flea markets, schools, concerts, parks...all featuring food-in-a-hurry.
4) Lunch wagons aren't stationary - they go wherever they want.

There are no big revelations here...just a quick celebration of the American lunch, as depicted in the many vintage photos in the gallery below, from 1900 to the 1950s...

Michigan Lunch Rooms: 1900-1940s


Michigan Department Stores: 1900-1964

Michigan Cigar Stores, Early 1900s

Michigan Furniture Shops: 1900-1950

More From 99.1 WFMK