The Electric Waffle Shop — Then and Now

photo courtesy Rick Brazier

I'm sure you read our February Restaurant Guide from cover to cover, because it's pretty much all anybody has been talking about, whenever I attend parties, wakes, and barn-raisings (whew, it's been a busy month). And I'm equally certain that a highlight of that entire issue was my column on various restaurants that are long-gone.

If you don't recall what I said, word for word, go here and enjoy it all over again.

One of the eating establishments that caught my attention had an unusual name: The Electric Waffle Shop. And what do you know, but my pal Rick Brazier, who occasionally posts wonderful old photos he's culled from the Memphis Police Department files, actually located this nice image of the place, taken in 1934, as if the photographer had been standing in the doorway of the Chisca Hotel across the street. The place was owned and operated by Mrs. Virdle Cooper, according to old city directories, which sometimes spelled her name Verdle and even Verdie.

A rather handsome little restaurant, isn't it, and look — you could get a decent meal there for just 40 cents. The brick building to the right is the old Adler Hotel, in case you were wondering about that.

Then Rick did something truly fascinating. Most of you know how obsessed I am with "then and now" images — it's what has made me the man I am today. Well, Rick found this same location (the southwest corner of Main and Linden) and took a color photo of the same building today, and just to prove it is the same building, he superimposed the old/new photos (below).

Some details are missing — notably the wonderful archway linking the two buildings, and the Schlitz neon sign hanging over the entrance to the Electric Waffle Shop, but the two buildings in the old photo are relatively unchanged, though serving different functions. The restaurant now houses offices of the Church of God in Christ, and the old Adler Hotel facing us has been converted into condos (not shown here — take my word for it). The tall brick building in the background in the old photo, an annex of the Adler Hotel, is now a parking lot for the condos.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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