Every generation has certain stores or activities that bring up a wave of nostalgia when remembered. Blockbuster will probably be one of them for anyone growing up in the early 2000's, and the Nintendo Game Boy is definitely a blast from the past for all those 90's kids out there. For anyone who frequented K-Marts in the 80's and 90's, you might remember the K-Mart café, an essential part of the K-Mart shopping experience.
This well-loved café was called Holly's Café, and it could be found in any K-Mart department store across the United States. This small eatery had an assortment of yummy snacks, like nachos, soft pretzels, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs and of course the famous ICEE. Everyone had their go-to snack, but the most popular was the chips and gravy. Along with the café items, there was a deli with delicious items like the classic sub sandwich.
The Beloved K-Mart Café
K-Mart and its popular café originated with S. S. Kresge, whose K-Mart journey began when he met variety-store pioneer Frank Winfield Woolworth. Kresge started the S.S. Kresge Company in Delaware with eighty-five stores and then started a new S.S. Kresge Company in Michigan, which is the modern-day Kmart store. The store was listed on the New York Stock Exchange a few years later, and from there K-mart's success grew!
Leadership of the store eventually changed, and the company opened the first K-Mart named store in 1962, a few months before the first Walmart opened. Shortly after, the first full-size Kmart opened in Garden City, Michigan. From it's earliest days, K-Mart went through many changes, from various promotions to rebranding. The Blue Light Special is one such sale promotion that was advertised with the phrase "attention Kmart shoppers," which became a well-known phrase in pop culture. If you remember the café, you definitely remember the excitement that came from hearing that voice over the intercom!
Throughout the '80s and '90s, every K-Mart store had a k-Mart café, and shoppers could enjoy fast food as a reward for errands whenever they pleased! In the early 1990s, K-Mart made the decision to remodel its stores, along with opening Little Caesars. The first Little Caesars Pizza in a K-Mart was in 1990 in a Kmart in Michigan. Some other big changes were the Super Kmart Center which opened in Ohio in 1991, along with the introduction of Big Kmart in Chicago.
The Downslide of K-mart and Its Famous Café
Despite Kmart's popularity, its success started to decline in the early 2000s. In 2004, Kmart decided to merge with Sears, but it eventually slid into bankruptcy and had to sell a large portion of its stores, so the general public had to begin saying goodbye to the beloved K-Mart café. At its height of success, Kmart had over 2,000 stores throughout the United States, but there are currently only about forty of this legendary store remaining. Although many retail stores are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kmart is still open for those shoppers lucky enough to have one nearby!
The real question is, what about the k-mart café? Well, Reddit confirms that there are few of these retro havens of fast food scattered throughout the country, one being in Michigan and another in Pennsylvania. If you're looking to enjoy a hot dog or sub sandwich while experiencing a blast from the past, hit up one of these old school cafes while you can!