Retro recipe alert! It's the Long Bob & Kourey’s Meatloaf
Updated: Jun 18, 2022
The Charleston High School All-Class Reunion call for retro recipes CHS students might have enjoyed back in the day continues to turn up several leads – and a bounty of memories – including a few this week from the families who owned some of those classic restaurants.
I received quite a surprise when Shirley Phillips Davis, the 86-year-old daughter of THE Bob Phillips from Kanawha City’s old Bob Phillips Drive-In (home of the famous Long Bob sandwich we’ve heard so much about of late) called to say she had also received a clipping of my article that was sent down to her in Waxahachie, TX.
We spent a good bit of time on the phone Sunday afternoon, where she regaled me with stories of her dad’s impressive resume on the local restaurant scene (Bob Phillips Drive-In, The Parkette, The Terrace, The Buffeteria and more), her family’s management of three local hotels and her time meeting Shoney’s founder Alex Schoenbaum (founder of Shoney’s) while working at the old Parkette at age 14.
And about that famous Long Bob?
“First things first,” she was quick to point out. “Shoney’s does NOT have the Long Bob. They took our Long Bob and called it a Slim Jim, but it’s not the same.”
Their original creation included thinly shaved Danish ham, mustard, lettuce, tomato and a pickle on top. (She didn’t mention Swiss cheese, but consensus indicates that was in the mix as well.) I’ve included that recipe this week.
“It was kind of like a Cuban sandwich, but the secret was the Grecian bread made just for us with sesame seeds in it. It came in 18” loaves and we’d cut them to make three 6” sandwiches,” she explained. “Each side of the bread was buttered and placed on a press, then it was filled with ingredients and smashed down to flatten and toast. Then they’d stick it with two frilly-dilly toothpicks, cut it along a slant and the Long Bob was born.”
She said her father did eventually give the original recipe to Trivillian’s Soda Fountain in Kanawha City and, sure enough, there is one listed on the menu there today.
“But unless you have that same special bread and same ingredients we did,” she cautioned, “it’s not going to be like ours was.”
Interestingly enough, after receiving a less-than-favorable review of this modern-day Long Bob from a reader last week, I ventured down to Trivillian’s on Monday to try one myself.
Although it wasn’t a life-changing experience – and was definitely smaller and looked different – the Long Bob I was served that day seemed to be a reasonable facsimile of what Shirley Phillips Davis described to me. The bread wasn’t buttered, but it was crusted with sesame seeds and had all the other accoutrements.
Oh well. But, Davis added, the Long Bob was probably their second-most popular sandwich anyway.
“We also had the French Frank, and probably even more people still ask where they can get one of those. It was also a pressed sandwich, but on different bread, and then they’d fill it with a hotdog, chili, slaw or whatever you wanted in it. There was no other sandwich like that around, so that’s what people always asked for.”
That, and her mother’s pies.
“She grew up in bakeries and people came from all over for her pies,” Davis said. “At times, she’d make as many as 150 pies a day at the drive-in.”
“Mom was such a great baker and dad was involved in so much all over the city and the world,” she recalled. “He knew everyone and people just gravitated to him and wanted to be around him. It was such an exciting time in our lives and it means a lot to hear so many people still think of him and his restaurants so fondly.”
Before we said our goodbyes, Davis said she also had to clear up one more thing she’s been hearing from folks reminiscing about old Charleston restaurants and recipes.
“Everybody keeps talking about The Sterling’s famous French dressing with bleu cheese crumbles, but it was wasn’t bleu cheese,” she laughed. “They used feta.”
• • •
“Hello Mr. Keith,” another message began, “I would like to introduce myself to you. I am Peggy Kourey, the daughter of Louis and Flossie Kourey. Louis was the last family member owner of Kourey’s Sweet Shop and Restaurant.”
Remember their 1960’s slogan? “Hamburgers like grandma used to make!”
She went on to list a number of recipes that were made from scratch there: the chocolate candy, candy canes, decorated chocolate Easter eggs, ice cream, milkshakes and fountain drink syrups like root beer, cherry, orange, lemon and lime.
“These recipes were not written down,” she continued, “but were all memorized by my grandfather and his brother (founders Joseph and John Kourey) and then passed on to my father, who had them memorized as well.”
She said Kourey’s Sweet Shop was founded in 1909 and was a staple for many from Charleston High School, Thomas Jefferson Junior High, McMillian Hospital, Charleston General Hospital (now CAMC General), Baker Equipment and many others.
“My father remodeled the interior around the early 1960s, and after that it was called Kourey’s Restaurant. The students most likely will remember the hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, ice cream and fountain drinks that were always ready for their lunch break. I do have several newspaper articles from the past regarding the founding and candy making, but the only recipe I have (which has been downsized for home cooking) is for individual meatloaf footballs.”
Anyone remember the meatloaf from Kourey’s? I’m also sharing that recipe.
• • •
And the memories continue …
“My sister mailed me your article,” Judy Hirsh Penza wrote. “I now live in New Jersey and all of those lunch spots and hangout places really revive great memories. My class was the Class of 1961. That’s going back some. Anyway, one of our favorite lunch spots was the Valley Bell Dairy store located right across the street from Charleston High School.”
She said their best lunch seller was a hotdog with chili and slaw, plus a fountain Coke, for the whopping cost of 27 cents.
“They had tons of them pre-made and wrapped, waiting for the lunch crowd. Nothing like a West Virginia hotdog. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!”
Thank YOU, Judy, for sharing your stories with me.
“We thoroughly enjoyed your article in the Gazette/Mail, because that was OUR era, but some years before you,” wrote Harry Kennedy, Jr. “We live in Florida now … and the restaurants and shops mentioned were ALL frequented by us growing up.”
He said he (Class of ’51) and wife Jessie Lilly Kennedy (Class of '53) especially liked Bob Phillips Drive-In in Kanawha City and his family also frequented the Sterling Restaurant when it was on Washington Street next to the Diamond.
“We have been faithful attendees at nearly all our class reunions, but can’t make this gathering I’m sorry to say. Thanks for the MEMORIES!”
Tickets for the All-Class Reunion dinner at the Charleston Convention Center are $60 each and must be purchased by July 4. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit www.chaswvccc.com.
The “Long Bob” from Bob Phillips Drive-In
Grecian bread loaf with sesame seeds, cut into 6” sections
Thinly shaved Danish ham
Swiss cheese, sliced
Pickle, for garnish
Butter, to toast bread
Butter each side of the 6” bun you created and place on a sandwich press.
Layer on the ham, lettuce, tomato and mustard, then press and grill the sandwich until lightly toasted.
Using two toothpicks, top the sandwich with a pickle on each end and slice sandwich diagonally before serving.
Individual Meatloaf “Footballs” from Kourey’s Restaurant
2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup oats
6 saltine crackers, crumbled (or 1/3 cup)
½ green pepper, finely chopped (or ½ cup)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. onion powder (or 1 small onion, finely chopped)
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 egg (or 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water)
½ cup ketchup
½ cup ketchup
4 Tbsp. honey or molasses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first group of ingredients together in a large bowl.
Mix second group of ingredients together in a small bowl, then mix well into the meat mixture until combined.
Using a small (Corelle size) coffee cup, form small individual loaves and place in a greased baking pan or dish.
Mix third group of ingredients in a small bowl and brush or pour over loaves.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes until tops start to brown.
• • •
Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.