Remembering The Toddle House
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Before the Huddle House, there was the Toddle House. These little quick service restaurants were distinctive in that there were no locks on the doors. There were three in this area, 537 McCallie Ave., 3627 Brainerd Road and 3603 Ringgold Road. Similar to the Waffle House, the counter and stools faced the grill. The one on McCallie Avenue had no booths.
When you entered you noticed how tiny it was inside and how wonderful the food smelled cooking on the grill. Steak n’ Shake reminds me of the delicious smells of the Toddle House but unlike Steak n’ Shake there were no shakes, just Cokes, coffee and milk.
Everything was cooked on the grill including breakfast.
Scrambled eggs and hash browns were cooked in skillets with bacon simmered on the flat grill. A rather messy looking waffle iron stood next to the grill staying hot continually. The cook would reach into the cooler, pull out a stainless steel container and dip a ladle of batter onto the hot grill all in one motion. The waffles were perfect every time I got one.
Breakfast was served with the best coffee I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Yes, I was allowed to drink coffee as a kid, but with a lot of cream and sugar. On the edge of your saucer was a tiny glass bottle of cream. They gave me two and, as with diners, the counter had those Anchor Hocking sugar dispensers. There were no individual packets or sugar substitutes and never any sweet tea at the Toddle House.
If you wanted anything other than breakfast, hamburgers, steaks or icebox pies, you were in the wrong place. This was quick serve. Burgers were pre-shaped so they could be tossed on the grill. You could get chopped onions added on request. Hash browns were little paper bags of chopped, parboiled potatoes which, along with a little oil, were quickly tossed into a skillet. Paprika was generously sprinkled on and the grill and cook took care of the rest.
A steak dinner consisted of a small round beef filet, bacon wrapped, which could be grilled under a flat metal press with a handle to assure even cooking. Served with signature hash browns and a buttered, toasted hamburger bun, it was great.
For dessert you had a choice from three ice box pies, no lemon, however. There were chocolate, banana cream and my favorite, butterscotch, each coated with real whipped cream. They were prepared daily in a little white brick building behind the Toddle House on McCallie by a sweet little lady who lived across the street from me. Her name was Annie Watley and she made the most delicious pies. She let me watch her work her magic one day.
I ate a few times at the Brainerd Road Toddle House next to the Brainerd Bootery, Miller Bros. and Brainerd Theater, all places we frequented. I ate only once at the East Ridge restaurant. It was close to a later favorite of mine located near the intersection of South Germantown and Ringgold Roads, Pizza Villa.
In 1962, the Dobbs House corporation bought out the Toddle House company and closed our local restaurants shortly thereafter.
There is a website, Toddle House Locations-Diner Hunter, where you can see a photo of the East Ridge Toddle House. And if you Google “Toddle House” you get a picture of the quaint little building similar to my favorite on McCallie Avenue. I hope it brings back fond memories when you do.
The Quasi Gourmand