Lanford Lunch Box - Small
Midwest restaurant featured
on the situation comedy ROSEANNE/ABC/1988-97.
The Lanford Lunch Box was
opened during the 1992 season when Roseanne Connor (Roseanne Barr)
and sister Jackie Harris (Laurie Metcalf) pooled their money (some
from their mother) to open a coffee shop that specialized in
The whole Conner clan pitched in to help run the eatery except for
Roseanne's daughter, Darlene (Sara Gilbert), an avowed vegetarian
who objected to the way the family earned its money.
did something wrong (like drawing obscene pictures outside The
Lunchbox on episode "Lanford Daze"), her mother Roseanne made her work at the shop
as a punishment and serve loose-meat sandwiches to the customers.
TRIVIA NOTE: On March 13-14, 1993, Roseanne Barr and then husband,
Tom Arnold were the guest chefs at the grand opening of their own
real-life eatery called Roseanne & Tom's Big Food Diner located
just a few miles from Tom's native Ottumwa near Highway 5 at 101
Elm Street in Eldon, Iowa 52254 (population 1,070).
With a seating capacity of 50-70 customers, the restaurant served
the four basic food groups "cholesterol, grease, sugar and starch"
from 6:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., seven days a week with menu entrees
ranging from $1.50 to $4.50.
Resembling the TV counterpart, the restaurant featured a Cheesy
Loose-Meat Sandwich for $1.75 (which one Eldonite said "tasted
like burnt hair") as well as "The Elvis," a grilled peanut butter,
chocolate and banana sandwich, and an early morning meal known as
"The Breakfast Mess," a plateful of scrambled eggs swimming in
cheese chunks, fried potatoes and onions.
The eatery's interior was filled with photographs and mementos
from Roseanne and Tom's life including an Emmy Award (later taken
back) sitting in a glass souvenir case next to the cash register.
Tom Arnold's brother Chris oversaw the diner's operation.
The inspiration for the Lanford Lunch Box was a loose meat
sandwich restaurant called The Canteen in Ottumwa, Iowa.
When Roseanne and Tom divorced in 1994, business at the restaurant
turned "molasses-slow." The restaurant closed in 1995 and the
property was later donated to the city of Eldon.
Before Roseanne and Tom's invasion of Eldon, Iowa, the farm town's
only claim to fame was its two-story house seen in the background
of Grant Wood's 1930 painting "American Gothic." (TV Guide 3/13/93
p.18-19 and Entertainment Weekly 12/23/1994 p. 8-9)
A major loose meat sandwich restaurant in the Midwest is the
"Maid Rite" was founded in 1926 by Fred Angel. Maid-Rite
Corporation’s headquarters are located in Urbandale, Iowa. They
have over 70 locations, located in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois,
Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio.
The loose-sandwich is also known as a "Tavern Sandwich
(seasoned or unseasoned ground beef on a bun, mixed with sauteed
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