Postcard: Harvest House at the Tyler Mall

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Harvest House Cafeteria
3535 Tyler Mall
Riverside, Calif. 92503
We invite you to visit other Harvest House locations throughout the United States and Canada




This October will mark the 40th anniversary of the Tyler Mall in Riverside. Previously, we did an overview of how the mall came into existence and how it came to be as it’s known today — Galleria at Tyler. In the coming months, we’ll add a few more posts about various aspects of the mall. For now, we begin with one of the few postcards we can find associated with the mall itself — Harvest House cafeteria.

… in 1954, (F.W. Woolworth) began setting up its own chain of cafeterias and restaurants, named Harvest House. Located near, usually adjoining, Woolworth stores, the new Harvest House restaurants, with their cornucopia insignia, were not intended to take the place of the in-house lunch counters and soda fountains, but to supply more leisurely settings for customer dining.”

F.W. Woolworth and the American Five and Dime

(2003, Jean Maddern Pitrone)

The Tyler Mall Harvest House opened with the mall in October 1970. It was situated on the mall’s southeastern side halfway between anchors JCPenney and May Co. (though May Co. would not open until 1973). Immediately adjacent to Harvest House was a 61,000 sq. ft., 2-story Woolworth’s (today, the former Woolworth’s basement serves as a Tuesday Morning outlet).

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1970
Grand Opening

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1970
Harvest House

According to a Press-Enterprise article on the mall’s grand opening, the general manager of the new Woolworth’s was Larry G. Shappart while the manager for Harvest House was Francis A. Costanzo.
One variation of Harvest House’s “Colonial” theme (as seen in the postcard above) gave the cafeteria style restaurant a down-home “Americana” feel. But the wood brown paneling with red carpet and green-hued walls also made it feel dated and dreary (at least to us kids). And when the dining room was near empty, as it often seemed at the Tyler Mall location, it felt more like a mausoleum than a restaurant. Only the occasional kitchen noise and faint sounds of shopping activity drifting in through the entrance from Woolworth’s would break the eerie silence.
Moreover, one of the strangest aspects of Harvest House was the indoor mall entrance itself, which consisted of an elaborate blue, mansard-style facade with a large cornucopia underneath as part of the “Harvest House” signage. (As a kid, nothing says mystery food better than a strange looking cornucopia. There was also a larger, much creepier version adorning a dining room wall.)
Once past the semi-formal entryway, patrons encountered a long narrow hallway — separated from the dining area — leading back to the cafeteria service. (Again, as a kid, this is where the trepidation, wondering what kind of awful food is actually served here, would begin — assuming you hadn’t already begged your parents to go to McDonald’s instead).
By 1976, there were 50 Harvest House cafeterias in existence, with even more lunch counters/cafes still in operation inside many Woolworth’s (including, at one time, a small cafe attached to the Tyler Mall store). Surprisingly, Harvest House lasted well into the 1980s, with the last one closing in the mid-1990s (we seem to recall the Tyler Mall HH had closed by 1990). Woolworth’s itself would succumb in 1997, though the parent company lives on in the form of its most successful division — Foot Locker.
Photo Gallery: Galleria at Tyler
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Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, WikiPedia

Comments on “Postcard: Harvest House at the Tyler Mall

  1. werememberretail December 2, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    I vividly remember family trips to the Harvest House Cafeterias as a young lad. In my area There were HH’s at the Quaker Bridge, Oxford Valley and Neshaminy Malls. I frequented the former 2. and to the contrary I found the food there to be absolutely delicious, though I always liked a Mcdonald’s hamburger, a Bacon Cheesburger platter at the HH was a special treat. as I recall the Turkey Dinner special was also good IMHO. Beats most of the overpeiced fare at the “hip” upscale restaraunts nowadays.

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