Memories Quiz - What Were the Original Vendors in the Hamilton Place Food Court?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - by Harmon Jolley

The word nostalgia is based on two Greek words meaning “homecoming” and “pain,” and is used in describing a personal feeling that the days of one’s youth were better than the current situation.  Thus, it often requires about twenty to thirty years to have elapsed – allowing time to have grown up, moved out of the childhood home, and started careers - before we begin to have wistful thoughts of the earlier era.    Some examples of nostalgia themes in pop culture are the 1950’s-based television show Happy Days which premiered in 1974 and the 1983 film The Big Chill which recalled the 1960’s.

Let’s do a nostalgia quiz using a topic close to home – the opening of Hamilton Place Mall.  Feelings of nostalgia often occur after the mere mention of the prior period, prompting comments such as “I can’t believe it’s been that long ago!”  Incredible as it may seem, Hamilton Place opened almost thirty years ago, on August 5, 1987.   The only question on the nostalgia quiz is the following.  What were the original vendors in the Hamilton Place food court?

While you’re pondering that question, discussing it at the office water cooler or on social media, I’ll give you some time by digressing to talk about the history of food courts.  When shopping malls first appeared, there weren’t as many fast food chains as today.  Also, some of the stores in the malls such as F.W. Woolworth's had their own restaurants.  The few stand-alone eateries were rarely located in a central area.  Locally, Eastgate Mall had the Shake Shack and Orange Julius while Northgate featured a hot dog diner called the Carousel.

The rise of fast food chains provided shopping centers with the ability to offer lots of choices in a central eating area.  Sometimes, the food court was co-located with another mall business to provide synergy and to increase foot traffic.  The since-demolished Mall of Memphis opened in 1981 with a food court on the second-floor balcony above an Ice Capades skating rink.  The Hamilton Place food court had a carousel in the dining area for a few years.  Northgate Mall partitioned some former retail space into a food court that included Petro’s and Glen Gene Sandwiches.

Now, back to the quiz.  Here are the answers based on the Hamilton Place grand opening spotlight section in the July 31, 1987 Chattanooga Times.

·         Arby’s

·         Boardwalk Fries

·         Chick-Fil-A

·         Frank & Stein

·         Golden Greek

·         Krystal

·         Manchu Wok

·         Sbarro’s

·         Steak Escape

·         Taco Bell

·         Zack’s Famous Frozen Yogurt

Of the ones in the list, only Chick-Fil-A and  Sbarro’s are still operating in the food court at the mall.  The Krystal and Taco Bell moved to Shallowford Road outside the mall.  Another thing that prompts feelings of nostalgia is when one realizes how much has changed!.

Hope you did well on the quiz.  If you have memories of the early years of the Hamilton Place food court that you would like to be shared in an update to this article, please send an e-mail to




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