Fraser, eighty-two, is recalling the condition of the restaurant at 2045 Packard when her husband, Bill, and his brother, Jimmy, leased it in 1962. It wasn't nearly as old as it looked--it first appears in the 1941 Polk City Directory as the Log Cabin, a "confectioner" owned by Leonard McCalla--but had already seen hard use. McCalla's sister and brother-in-law, Dorothy and Earl Fawcett, ran it as a restaurant till the mid-1950s. (Joan recalls "an ice-cream drive-through" on the side of the building--perhaps the source of Polk's initial classification.) The Fawcetts then leased it to Henry Turner, who called it Henry's Chuck Wagon, and then, briefly, to Larry and Mamie Davis.
The Davises advertised that they were "recommended by Gourmet and Duncan Hines." But as Joan recalls it, the couple didn't know the first thing about running a business. "It went belly up," says John, the oldest of Joan and Bill's four children. "My dad, Uncle Jimmy, and grandfather decided to do something, try it, and they did."
When they first looked at 2045 Packard, Joan recalls, the building was beat up--but "it had parking." And the brothers were being driven by "necessity." Bill--also known as Red, for his red hair--was a milkman for the Cloverleaf Dairy, but by then, "people were getting their milk from large grocery stores like Kroger's for pennies cheaper." Jimmy's employer, Argus Camera, was losing ground to foreign competitors.