Scratch a native Minnesotan of a certain age, find a Dayton’s recollection. These comments, lifted from the Star Tribune’s website, are reactions to this story on the 113-year dining legacy at 700 Nicollet. (The Oak Grill and Skyroom close for good on Jan. 27). What’s your memory? Share it in the comments section, below.
“My parents met as employees in the Sky Room. Mom did salad prep, Dad was a cook. I have a small note book in his handwriting with some recipes marked ‘Sky Room.’ I remember I was allowed in the Oak Grill (before they stopped the no unescorted women rule). WDGY had the Saturday teen program from the 8th floor auditorium. Bill Diehl was the emcee, with Dayton's employees and Teen Board members doing fashion shows, make-up demos, etc. The Beatles were all we talked about and Louise Harrison Caldwell (George Harrison's sister) brought information and news about them to us. Walking on Nicollet Avenue (pre-Mall days) and looking in the windows at the creative displays. The sound of ladies high heels as we walked on the wooden floors. The Christmas and Flower Shows, always so anticipated and worth the wait. Towards the end, when Penney's, Donaldson's, Power's, Albrecht's and so many others had departed the area, Dayton's was the last reason to go downtown. Now there's nothing.” (Image, above: Sky Room, 1949, Minnesota Historical Society).
“I remember my mom taking me as a young child, to eat at Dayton's restaurant in the mid to late 60's, especially those times when we also went to see Santa's Toy Factory. The food was delicious, though I wondered why the ‘blue plate’ special came on a white plate. She'd also make sure to visit that wonderful candy counter. We usually ordered fudge and though it was very good, it wasn't quite as good as her homemade fudge. My Mom worked for Dayton's for about 30 years. She knew many of the family members and always said that they were first class people. When I was growing up my brother and I were pretty lucky, we pretty much had all of our clothes from Dayton's and they always had the best. This article brings back so many memories I am fighting back tears at times reading it. This is an irreplaceable loss to the Twin Cities. The Candy counter? I can still smell the chocolate!!!” (Image, above: Dayton's toy department, 1955, Star Tribune file photo).
“I'm old enough to remember the Daisy sales at Dayton's as well as eating at the Skyroom. I was never fortunate enough to eat at the Oak Grill (it was pretty expensive), but the Christmas decorations on the 8th floor was a must for our family. Anyone else remember the Santa Bears, and a new one coming out every year? Good times and great memories. Dayton's was truly a fantastic department store.” (Image, above: Dayton's main floor, decorated for a Walker Art Center exhibition, 1980, Star Tribune file photo).
“My parents brought us to Dayton's every year to visit Santa and for the wonderful Christmas display. It was so much fun to walk through the display and then meet Santa. The display stories were always fun to see as you walked through to see Santa.”
“When I was very little, my mom sewed dresses for the mannequins in the store windows. I still remember walking through our living room and collecting the black sequins to hold in my hand and stare at the sparkle. Magical. I also had an old Dayton's gift certificate that I kept, unspent, because it looked so fancy. The envelope and certificate looked like an invitation to a White House event (I image) and I didn't have many fancy things. Long story short, my husband threw it away because he ‘didn't think I needed it’ . . . Yes, you betcha, we are no longer married.”
“I have fond memories of my Mom and me doing our yearly trip to downtown, shopping along the Mall and having lunch at the Sky Room. It was like going to a different world for me. We lived in Bloomington and took the bus (adventure!) from Southdale.” (Image, above: Skyroom, 1987, Star Tribune file photo).
“Went to the Oak Grill for lunch today. I think the fireplace and horse painting hanging on the wall on the 12th floor need to be saved by the historical society and placed in St. Paul.” (Image, above: Oak Grill, 1987,when the restaurant was celebrating its 60th birthday, Star Tribune file photo).
“This article reminded me that unlike many other closings in our fair cities, this one building's history was cultivated literally over a century and potentially decades’ worth of family memories for many. Fondest food memories here were, lunch at the Skyroom with my mom, stopping down in the Marketplace to grab some of those amazing cookies and /or Frango mints and occasional holiday dinners with my aunt and cousin at the Oak Grill (always trying to snag a table by the fireplace).There was classiness and elegance about this place (much more so in the Dayton's years) yet still accessible to multiple stratas of income. My fear is what the city and developers will end up replacing it with is more over-priced, high end boutique shops and gourmet eateries that are just plain impractical for many to want to visit multiple times if even once at all.”
“This article brings back special memories for me . . . in 1959 I was a young single lady with her first job out of Business College working in Minneapolis. My very first credit card was at Dayton's! My father did not like credit cards and warned me not to get one . . . but it was a matter of ‘establishing a good credit rating’ at that time. Wonderful memories of the awesome Christmas displays on [8th] floor. When our daughters were early teens, I brought them to the Cities to see the awesome Christmas displays at Dayton’s." (Image, above: The Tiffin cafeteria, about 1950, Minnesota Historical Society).
“I'm just glad we went one last time this past Christmas. How sad!!!! Just really sad!!” (Image, above: Santa breakfast in the Sky Room, 1961, photo Minnesota Historical Society).
“That picture at the top is how I remember the Sky Room. It was the ladies' lunch place for special occasions, like when my mother's college friends came to town to visit.”
“We always went to the Sky Room for large family gatherings. They served yummy lemon meringue pie. My uncle would always order a piece and no one else would order dessert. Then we all had a bite! Then he had to order another piece, and the same thing happened. This went on until just about everyone had the equivalent of one piece!” (Image, above: The store as it nears the end of construction of its 1947 addition, which added five floors to the 8th street building, including the Sky Room, located below the rooftop flagpole, 1947, photo Minnesota Historial Society).
“Thank you for a stroll down memory lane. Tears fill my eyes as I remember my glory days at Dayton's Saturday Teen day and then upstairs for lunch. Always dressed like a young lady. Loved it.”
“Will have to go for popovers somewhere else now and make the same memories with my grandchildren that we made with my children elsewhere. At least the elevators still say ‘Dayton's!’” (Image, above: Popovers are an Oak Grill tradition)
“My heart is broken . . . made reservations for Connie and me on the 25th. One last time.”