Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Johnny’s Drive In Grill — Raleigh’s First and Finest, Raleigh, North Carolina

This week on Flashback Friday we feature a dual-view ‘linen’ postcard depicting Johnny’s Drive-In Grill and the adjacent Johnny’s Supper Club. Raleigh’s first and finest.

Ate Lunch here 9/22/51

This postcard was never mailed, so I’m guessing the penciled notation was probably written by a traveling businessman as a reminder of the various stops he visited along the east coast north-south highway artery, US Route 1.

Raleigh businessman John (Johnny) W. Griffin erected the art moderne styled grill and restaurant just outside the Raleigh city limits in 1948. Within 10 years he had added a motel to the complex — Johnny’s Motor Lodge.

Johnny’s Supper Club, Drive-In Grill & Motor Lodge (John W. Griffin), Western Steaks, Charcoal Steaks, Chicken in Rough, Seafood. We cater to parties from 5 to 150, Air Conditioned Rooms, TV, Room Service. 1625 Louisburg Rd, Tel TEmple 3-1901.

— Raleigh City Directory, 1959

Johnny’s offered all the amenities the automobile-traveling public could wish for. (I have no idea what ‘chicken in rough’ could be!)

Griffin sold the Supper Club about 1960 and the new owner renamed it the Black Steer Steakhouse. In July 1965 the iconic Raleigh landmark burned to the ground.

Reported at 3:55 a.m. by telephone by a passing motorist. Firefighters battled the blaze in a heavy rainstorm. The fire was started by a faulty thermostat on the deep-fat fryer. The restaurant was built in 1948 and operated for 10 years as Johnny’s Supper Club. Loss $136,416.

— N&O July 29, 1965 (Cited by Mike Legeros)

Griffin expanded the motel and grill in the early 1960s and updated the restaurant with one of Raleigh’s first modernist ‘googie’ style canopies.

Johnny’s Grill still offered curb service when I was in high school in the late ’60s and was a favorite hangout for my friends and me. I’ll never forget sitting in the car and wolfing down shakes and burgers under that googie canopy. Flash forward to 2012 — the original grill building still stands, but has undergone extensive remodelings in the past 45 years and is barely recognizable to the image seen in the postcard. And the googie canopy is long gone.

This week’s postcard is an example of the ‘linen’ type, popular from the 1930s until the ‘photochrome’ type replaced it in the 1950s. This card was published by Henry H. Ahrens of Charlotte, N.C.

‘Linen’ is a reference to a postcard that has a linen-like fabric texture embossed into its front surface. The Curt Teich Company of Chicago was the first to use this texture for large scale production starting in 1931. To increase their brilliance Linens were often spot printed with a fifth color, often light blue, which was added to the normal CYMK pallet.  There are publishers who produced postcards with a linen texture on them many years earlier as novelties, but only cards manufactured after 1931 when they dominated production are referred to as Linens. Though printed alongside photochromes for many years, the use of linens ended by 1959 as chromes became more popular with the public.

 

“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week-end treat!


Discuss Raleigh

  • Recent Comments:

    • Robert Bryant, Sr.: I may be one of the last who can say this: My mother and I, when I was a toddler, would walk two...
    • Hector: Great find! I visited the reactor in the 90’s, and I loved the sign on the front of the building that...
    • Jim Webster: Did the original Johnny’s have a “Johnny’s” monogram on their drinking glasses?...
    • Schteveo: Holy crap that’s funny.
    • LJG: Pipe screens! God I remember when me and a buddy took almost ever screen from the men’s lavatories in the...
    • scott t: I was in Metcalf Dorm and watched people scrambling to flush weed. the RA’s were paid off worked...
    • Jim McGonigal: I have great memories of the Pier. My Dad had come over to Raleigh from the UK in the early 80s to...
    • Tom: Part of the control panel for the reactor (pictured in the article) is now in the collection of the North...


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