Starting in 1956 when I was 18 and in
Uppsala College I worked in the Blue Castle restaurants (they were
not called fast food palaces then) on Raymond Blvd and Chapel St
and the original one on North Broadway near the old school of Pharmacy
through 1958. I lived near the Blue Castle on Stuyvesant Ave in
Union which is where I was about 1/3 of the time I worked.
The North Newark and Down Neck stores were as different as night
and day. When I worked weekends from 5pm to 3am at the Broadway
store I could count on enough tips to gas up my car for the week.
The Ironbound store provided zilch in tips no matter what time of
day or night you worked. The customers on Broadway were the neighborhood
type with quite a few people from the School of Pharmacy and a bar
next door. The customers down neck were from the farmers market
on Chapel street, Ballantine's or the heavy industry in the area.
They were generally closed mouthed and came and went in a hurry.
There were a few local residents who patronized the store but nowhere
near the number at the Broadway location.
Hamburgers (they were hand rolled---16-17 per pound of meat) were
10 cents. Coffee (this was the one item the owners would not skimp
on and it was the best) was also 10 cents. You could get the coffee
to go in paper or a glass bottle for which there was a deposit of
10 cents. No french fries but Taylor Ham and eggs with toast (45
cents) and British biscuits (English muffins). Terrific Ice Cream
(which was made in the Union store) danish and pie made up the remainder
of the menu.
All 3 Blue Castles are now history. I know the one on Raymond
Blvd was torn down years ago and I have not been near North Newark
for a least 15 years so I have no idea what has transpired there.
There were 3 other Blue Castles that were operated as franchises:
On the Blvd in Jersey City, Harrison and Passaic. The one in Union
first turned into a pizza joint (Interestingly it was part of the
FBI/DEA probe they dubbed "The Pizza Connection".) and
then into a Dunkin Donuts.
All I can say is that it was an education in of itself. Being
at the Ironbound store when a big fight rolled in between 3 guys
which started in the Esso Station next door. They put one guy's
head through the Jukebox which took us the rest of the night to
clean up, and in North Newark when the imbibers from the bar next
door came in all jovial and were still telling stories and jokes
when I went home at 3 am.
The best story is the 1st night I worked at the Broadway store
when, at 2 am, the crowd came in. Being totally wet behind the ears
I didn't know they had a game they played with all the new young
countermen. When I asked one woman what she wanted she replied;
"you nude on toast".. I stood there with my jaw hanging
unable to speak. Without breaking a beat the guy working the grill
asked: "white or rye". The place roared to watch the bright
red face of the teenager behind the counter. The hazing finished
I was immediately taken into their confidence and became one of
the "BC crew".