Guide to the Eat’n Park Photographs, 1958-1998

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
Eat’n Park Photographs
Creator
Eat'n Park
Collection Number
MSP#491
Date [inclusive]
1958-1998
Extent
1 linear feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Abstract
Established by Larry Hatch in Pittsburgh in 1949, Eat'n Park is a restaurant chain with locations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. This collection, which was brought together as part of the Eat’n Park fiftieth anniversary exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center in 1999, consists of photographs pertaining to the exhibit, as well as images of individual stores.

Preferred Citation

Eat’n Park Photographs, 1958-1998, MSP#491, Library and Archives Division, Senator John Heinz History Center

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History

The first Eat’n Park restaurant was opened in 1949 on Saw Mill Run Blvd. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Larry Hatch. Hatch, an executive with Isaly’s deli company, conceived Eat’n Park as one of the first hamburger restaurants in the Pittsburgh area to be serviced by carhops. The restaurant’s name was a nod to the ubiquity of “Park and Eat” signs in the late 1940s. The phrase could not be trademarked, so Hatch decided to flip the expression and use “Eat’n Park.” In addition to carhop service, Eat’n Park featured items from the Bob’s Big Boy menu, including Big Boy Burgers, by means of a franchise agreement.

During the 1950s, the restaurant was a hangout for teenagers and a “cruising” destination. In its first eleven years, Eat’n Park became a chain, boasting twenty-seven restaurants. By the early 1960s, carhop service was on the decline, and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s were increasing in popularity and number. In response, Eat’n Park reformed its image by decreasing its number of carhops and expanding its menu and seating capacity. The first large dining room opened in Ambridge in 1957. By the mid 1970s, the carhop service had been completely phased out. In 1976, Eat’n Park discontinued its franchise agreement with Bob’s Big Boy, and the Big Boy Burgers were no longer featured on the menu. (A burger similar to the Big Boy, the “Super Burger,” is still served at Eat’n Park.)

Eat’n Park, having made the transition from a drive-in to a family restaurant, continues to expand its operations. The chain includes over seventy-five restaurants, eight thousand employees, and has spread east toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; west into Ohio; and south into West Virginia. The company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1999 with an exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center titled “Eat’n Park’s Anniversary: Celebrating 50 Years of Smiles.”

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Scope and Content Notes

The Eat’n Park Photographs have been arranged in two series. Series I, Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibit, houses photographs pertaining to the Eat’n Park fiftieth anniversary exhibit installed at the Senator John Heinz History Center in 1999. Series II, Restaurant Buildings, includes photographs of various Eat’n Park restaurants taken by the company in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Series I: Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibit

The photographs in this series are arranged topically and date from 1958 through the late 1990s. They include a few labeled reproductions of photographs from the 1950s possibly used as part of the fiftieth anniversary exhibit, which was titled “Eat’n Park’s Anniversary: Celebrating 50 Years of Smiles”; prints of digitized photographs used in an exhibit video; snapshots of a film production re-creating the early years of Eat’n Park; a few photographs of employees, uniforms, and an employee reunion; an unidentified photograph of a customer; snapshots of a company event in 1997; and a few negatives depicting Eat’n Park meals and an unidentified employee. The photographers are unidentified.

Series II: Restaurant Buildings

The photographs in this series, taken between 1978 and 1985, include snapshots documenting the condition of about thirty-five Eat’n Park restaurants. Some of the photographs show exhaust systems and building repairs, while others simply capture the exteriors and interiors of the restaurants and the landscapes around them. The photographs, which were possibly taken for insurance purposes, are 3 x 5 prints, but there are a few instant photographs included as well. The photographer(s) is unidentified.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania  Senator John Heinz History Center, November 2009

Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Restrictions on Access

No Restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Acquisition Information

This collection came in 3 accessions:

1999.0187 - Gift of Eat'n Park;

2001.0042 - Gift of Linda A. Hospodar of the Eat'n Park Hospitality Group Inc.;

2002.0032 - Gift of Bill Moore on February 11, 2002.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Kelly Clark on July 23, 2008.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials

The Eat’n Park Records MSS#491, is described in its own finding aid. The records include menus and other marketing materials, company records including employee lists and newsletters, newspaper clippings, and items related to the fiftieth anniversary exhibit opened in 1999 at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

The Eat'n Park Oversize Materials, MSO#491, include restaurant signs, oversize menus, activity sheets, newspaper ads, and a Christmas album by the Eat’n Park singers.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Eat’n Park

Subject(s)

  • Restaurants--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Restaurants--Pennsylvania--Employees.
  • Restaurants--Pennsylvania--Public relations.

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Collection Inventory

Series I Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibit 1950-1998 

  BoxFolder
Digital copies (for video) undated 11

Employees 

  Folder
Digital copies (for video) undated 2
  Folder
Reunion 1987  3
  Folder
Uniforms 1958, undated  4
  Folder
Event 1997  5

Film production 

  Folder
Classic cars undated  6
  Folder
People undated  7
  Folder
Scenes undated  8-10
  Folder
Sets  undated  11
  Folder
Negatives [no prints] undated  12
  Folder
Reproductions undated 13
  Folder
Unidentified customer c1950, 1998  14

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Series II Restaurants (by store number.) 1982-1985 

  Folder
#2 1984 15-16
  Folder
#3 1982, 1984 17
  Folder
#3 1984 18-19
  Folder
#4 1982 20
  Folder
#5 1983 21
  Folder
#6 - General 1984 22-23
  Folder
#6 - Traffic patterns 1984 24
  Folder
#8 1985 25-28
  Folder
#9 1982 29
  Folder
#9 1982-1983 30
  Folder
#9 1983 31
  Folder
#10 1983 32
  Folder
#11 1984, undated  33
  Folder
#12 1983  34
  Folder
#13 1982 35-36
  Folder
#13 1985 37
  Folder
#14 undated 38
  Folder
#14 undated, 1984  39
  Folder
#15 1982  40
  Folder
#15 1983  41
  Folder
#16 1982  42-43
  Folder
#17 1982  44
  Folder
#18 1982  45
  Folder
#18 1982-1983 46
  Folder
#21  1982 47
  Folder
#22 1975, 1978-1979, 1982  48
  Folder
#22 1982, 1984, undated  49
  Folder
#22 1983 50
  Folder
#23 1983 51
  Folder
#26 undated 52
  Folder
#27 1983  53-54
  Folder
#27 1984 55-57
  Folder
#27 1985, undated  58
  Folder
#27 undated  59
  Folder
#29 1982  60-61
  Folder
#30 1982  62
  Folder
#30 1983, undated  63
  Folder
#32 1983 64
  Folder
#33 1982-1983 65
  Folder
#33 1983 66-67
  Folder
#33 1983-1984 68
  Folder
#34 1984 69
  Folder
#35 1983 70-72
  Folder
#36 1983 73-74
  Folder
#36 1984, undated  75
  Folder
#37 1982-1983  76
  Folder
#38 1983  77-80
  Folder
#38 1983, undated  81
  Folder
#38 undated  82-83
  Folder
#39 1985  84-85
  Folder
#40 1984  86-88
  Folder
#44 1980, 1982-1983  89

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