The Latchis is a landmark theater, hotel and pub. In a pandemic, that can be a problem


Brattleboro’s Latchis Memorial Building remains an Art Deco landmark eight decades after its opening in 1938. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

From When the Greek immigrant-turned-impresario Latchis family announced the grand opening of its namesake Brattleboro theater and hotel in the fall of 1938, members aimed to take the state by storm — even after the historic Great New England Hurricane hit the day before.

Thwarted by downed trees and utility lines, they nevertheless wrangled the 20th Century Fox movie musical “My Lucky Star,” the Felix Ferdinando Orchestra (“Direct from Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City,” the bill exclaimed) and a full house of 1,200 people to stay true to the old saying, “The show must go on.”

Eight decades later, the four-story art deco landmark has survived everything from the advent of television to $500,000 in flood damage from 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene. Then 2020 dawned with news of a looming global pandemic.

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Fun-Land Drive-In neon sign rescued for use in new immersive art experience


Last week, we learned one of Tampa Bay’s last remaining drive-in theaters had abruptly closed, but thanks to the creators of an immersive art experience, the theater’s iconic neon sign will have a new home.

For decades, bargain hunters flocked to the Fun-Lan Drive-in and Flea Market on Hillsborough Avenue, but regular customers weren’t enough to keep the Tampa staple open after the pandemic.

When a group of Bay Area artists heard about the closure, they jumped at the opportunity to preserve a piece of Tampa history, and bring it into the future.

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Spokane’s iconic train car restaurant Knight’s Diner settles into new ownership while preserving its storied past


Doug Gariepy is new owner and chef of Spokane’s historic Knight’s Diner. Young Kwak photo

From Inlander: Market Street’s historic Knight’s Diner is once again open for business, this time under the leadership of Spokane native Doug Gariepy.

“I grew up in this neighborhood,” Gariepy says, so when the opportunity to purchase Knight’s Diner arose, “it was a no-brainer.”

Although he grew up nearby, Knight’s Diner’s status as a community staple became even more evident to Gariepy when he took over. The restaurateur previously operated a Zip’s Drive-In in Colville before purchasing Knight’s, which he reopened in early fall.

“So many people are coming in here telling stories about this diner,” he says. “I’m proud to be a part of this history.”

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The Era of the Celebrity Meal


Saweetie’s campaign for McDonald’s. via McDonald’s

From The New York Times: Fast-food chains are hungry for celebrity partners to drive sales and appeal to younger consumers. The method is working.

On a Friday afternoon in the spring of 2020, Hope Bagozzi, the chief marketing officer at the Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, was on a Zoom call with representatives for Justin Bieber.

The agenda for the meeting? Exploring a possible partnership between the two Canadian greats.

The call was business-as-usual but took a surreal turn when suddenly, Ms. Bagozzi remembered, a black box that had been silent on the screen turned on, revealing the presence of Mr. Bieber himself. He spoke about how much he enjoyed eating Timbits, the restaurant’s bite-size doughnuts. At one point, Mr. Bieber pulled out a guitar to perform a song about Tim Hortons that he used to sing to his siblings.

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Volunteers Revive an Old Trading Post on Route 66


Painted Desert Trading Post in May of 2021, after volunteers repaired the stucco walls (leaving them in a state of arrested decay) and re-created lost window casings. Shellee Graham

From Preservation Magazine: Many call it the crown jewel of Route 66 relics. Vacant for six decades, it haunts a forgotten, decayed stretch of the Mother Road in the shadow of the Painted Desert, east of Holbrook, Arizona. The Painted Desert Trading Post was established in this harsh environment around 1940 by cattleman Dotch Garland Windsor, who saw opportunity in the number of tourists motoring daily past his small ranch. He sold rugs and jewelry (both likely Navajo-made), sundries, and Gulf Oil gasoline. Life there was good until 1958, when a bypass alignment of U.S. 66 opened where I-40 is today and traffic at the trading post dried up like a shut-off spigot. Thereafter, tumbleweeds and dust devils replaced the flow of Detroit steel, and Windsor soon moved to Holbrook, where he died in 1964 at age 68.

In 2018, with the trading post nearing collapse, word that the property was available found its way to Route 66 preservationist “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela. Dinkela called this writer, and within 24 hours the two of them had recruited seven others from around the country to pony up and purchase the revered icon from its owner, a California dentist. Following an on-site assessment, the owners group formed the nonprofit Route 66 Co-Op, began raising funds, and acquired a grant from the National Park Service along with eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The rescue was on.

Hayley Eichenbaum captures the “punchy absurdity” of Route 66 roadside architecture


Hayley Eichenbaum

From dezeen: Photographer Hayley Eichenbaum has created a series of images documenting the roadside architecture of America’s Route 66 that takes its cues from the often uncanny appearance of film stills.

Eichenbaum’s photographs are part of an ongoing series called The Mother Road, which nods to the moniker for Route 66 – a renowned highway that runs from Chicagoto Santa Monica.

From neon-lit motels to convenience stores clad with retro signage, Eichenbaum’s images document the roadside facades she discovered during more than eight road trips across the country’s southwest.

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