I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.

I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.
The Betty Crocker Kitchens 1940

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Betty Crocker Tree House Restaurant & Bakery

Betty Crocker Tree House Restaurant & Bake Shop
Did you ever eat at at Betty Crocker Restaurant in the 1970s? Did you work at one? I wonder if Betty Crocker's corporate parents opened up one of these today - would it be successful?

19 comments:

Larry said...

I worked in the summer of 1970 during my Junior year of HS at a Treehouse on LBJ Freeway in North Dallas. I was a dishwasher. The kitchen staff were professional workers as were most of the waitresses. There were a few high school girls working as waitresses. I can't recall where they drew the busboys from.

Food was the equivalent of a Chili's, but the vibe was a less casual. Did a pretty good business.

I'm sure General Mills probably had no business running a restaurant and likely had costs too high and more exotic places opened to compete with them through the 70s. (Magic Pan? anyone.)

Larry said...

I worked in the summer of 1970 during my Junior year of HS at a Treehouse on LBJ Freeway in North Dallas. I was a dishwasher. The kitchen staff were professional workers as were most of the waitresses. There were a few high school girls working as waitresses. I can't recall where they drew the busboys from.

Food was the equivalent of a Chili's, but the vibe was a less casual. Did a pretty good business.

I'm sure General Mills probably had no business running a restaurant and likely had costs too high and more exotic places opened to compete with them through the 70s. (Magic Pan? anyone.)

Kate Held said...

When I was in elementary school in Dallas in the '70s, The Betty Crocker Treehouse was my absolute favorite restaurant. They had a kids meal with the best sandwich ever: peanut butter with chocolate chips, grape jelly, and bacon on squishy white bread. It came with a side of Jello in the shape of an animal. I was always excited to find out which animal I would get. I think the restaurant lasted only a few years.

Susan Marks said...

Thank you for sharing your Betty Crocker Treehouse restaurant memories! Wouldn't it have been cool if the restaurant was decorated to resemble an actual treehouse?

Kate Held said...

Susan Marks - The Betty Crocker Treehouse Restaurant WAS decorated like a treehouse! It was so fun!

Susan Marks said...

Kate, did you get to climb up a ladder and sit in tree houses off the ground?

Kate Held said...

No, I don't think it had something like that.

Tom said...

I worked at a Betty Crocker Treehouse Restaurant for a couple years from 1970-71 during high school in North Dallas at the LBJ Freeway location. I was a dishwasher, busboy, salad prep, bakery sales clerk, apprentice pastry chef/cake decorator & waiter successively. My two younger sisters also worked as bakery clerks and waiters there. There were four restaurants in the test-chain including Scottsdale AZ, not sure about the other two.

The restaurant did have a treehouse feel, but it was mainly due to the large windows, high skylights, and lush plantings, including many trees. They also had four large birdhouses located in four quadrants of the restaurant, each containing a large talking ‘audio animatronic’ parrot with technology via Disney. These parrots spewed one-liners all day long, flapping their wings & moving their beaks in sync to the audio. It was obviously an attraction for young & old, although Treehouse was mostly a family restaurant. The food was generally good & included fresh baked bread from the restaurant’s own bakery. There were seafood, Italian, steak nights & other promotions.

The most impressive part of the experience was the bakery ..true to Betty Crocker form. Some of the bakery specials included a fancy marzipan cake, carrot cake & ‘pecan surprise’, the latter two being very popular & recipes shared freely. Baked breads of all kinds, cakes, awesome pies & cookies, danish, & donuts could all be purchased in the bakery. As a bakery clerk, leftover baked goods were free at the end of every evening shift. Sometimes I took surplus to a mission in a Dallas inner suburb with a HS group. Met a lot of fun people & had a great multifaceted first job experience, which I will never forget.

Don’t tell Betty Crocker, but I still have my serving tray & two trademark coffee mugs.

Kate Held said...

I'll bet on some occasion I saw Larry or Tom at the LBJ location! That's where my family went. I was six in 1970, and those were the years when I worshiped that restaurant!

Tom said...

Like Kate, most children adored Treehouse Restaurant, which made for a lively, sometimes chaotic work environment. God, I remember those Jello molds :-)

By way of correction, I was wrong about the Scottsdale location. Evidently the four restaurants in the test-chain included Overland Park, KS, Phoenix, AZ, Columbus, OH & Dallas, TX.

Treehouse Restaurants closed in 1974, but General Mills went on to buy and hugely expand the small Orlando-based Red Lobster chain in the early 70’s, & then founded the Olive Garden chain in 1982, which as we know, have been great successes. They spun off the restaurant business in 1995 to Darden Restaurants, the original Red Lobster company owner namesake, & now a Fortune 500 company, but don’t quote me.

There is an architectural model of the Treehouse Restaurant with a dozen viewing angles on FB, that I discovered last night, realistic & kind of spooky. Also found a scanned newspaper photo of the talking birds elsewhere. The picture reminded me of how high & open those ceilings were, and had to be for the trees.

Not to set a bad example, I would be happy to return the mugs & serving platter BTW 

Susan Marks said...

Love these Treehouse stories! Keep 'em coming!

Donna Crawford said...

I work at Betty Crocker Treehouse Restaurant in Overland Park, KS. I was on opening staff & was assistant dinning room mgr & ran the gift shop. In 1970. Everyone wanted to sit by the birds. Remember when ones head feel off. I will be going back to Overland Park for a visit in a week. Does anyone know the address please? Always had to walk thru the bakery every morning to clock in how good was that smell. Thanks. Donna Crawford

Sarah Elias said...

The old building has housed the local AAA for decades and it was painted white at some point in time. The address is 10600 Metcalf Ln, Overland Park, KS 66212

Sarah Elias said...

The old building has housed the local AAA for decades and it was painted white at some point in time. The address is 10600 Metcalf Ln, Overland Park, KS 66212

American Citizen said...

My parents drove us to the OP Kansas BC at least once a week from Lee's Summit. After BC, and before AAA, it housed the Italian Gardens second restaurant

bill bazen said...

Anyone here remember what the seating booths and counter chairs looked like?...Were they lime green?....were the waitress uniforms brown with Gold trim?...

guy 7sparks said...

Thanks for posting about the Treehouse Restaurant and Bake Shop. In the early 70’s, I worked as a bartender for a couple of summers at the Treehouse, on Morse Road, in Columbus, Ohio. I have fond memories of the Treehouse. That’s where I met the girl I should have married, but I goofed up. Awww…
I found a black and white picture of the inside of the Treehouse Restaurant. I could not post it in this blog, so I posted it in my Google+. As I remember, the Treehouse had animated parrots in large cages, and 4 big skylights with growing trees under them. Chairs, benches, and some of the walls used a lot of blond, uneven wood with clear vanish, showing knots and all, to give the d├ęcor the look of a natural, but tamed tropical forest. Waitress uniforms were Betty Crocker wholesome, using a lot of yellow cloth, maybe with brown or gold trim, or vice versa. General Mills started 14 restaurant chains, including the Treehouse, but only the Red Lobster and the Olive Garden have been successful in the long term.

Barb said...

@Tom: you were totally correct about the Scottsdale, AZ location, early 1970's, on Scottsdale Road. My sister and I both worked there while attending ASU. Our uniforms were orange and yellow.

Barb said...

I've tried to get the recipe for the Pecan Surprise (?) dessert from General Mills but no luck! It was a delicious mixture of meringue and pecans...and I didn't even like nuts back then!