Restaurants

Matchbooks from Central Florida's Past

Matchbooks were once a standard item at restaurants as, after all, you could smoke while you had a meal! While I never smoked, I did enjoy collecting matchbooks when I traveled. Only problem was that I didn't collect many when I was home in Orlando. Here are a few of the ones I did collect in Orlando, Kissimmee and Maitland, plus a few from the Walt Disney World Resort.

Central Florida Matchbooks. Personal Collection
Central Florida Matchbook Covers. Personal collection.

Looking at these, there are only three matchbooks from stand-alone restaurants; Pebbles, Lee's Lakeside and The Bubble Room. I enjoyed visiting those restaurants as often as I could, which wasn't nearly often enough. If I remember correctly, Lee's Lakeside had previously been a dinner theatre, and sometime when in elementary or middle school, our class went to a matinee performance there. I'm thinking it was 'Cabaret,' or some similar style musical, but I can't be certain some 50 years later.

Cherry Plaza Hotel on the shore of Orlando's Lake Eola. Florida Memory photo.
Cherry Plaza Hotel on the shore of Orlando's Lake Eola. The single story portion closest to Lake Eola is where Lee's Lakeside would be located in later years. Florida Memory photo dated 1958.

On a side note, the building that housed Lee's Lakeside was once the Cherry Plaza Hotel where, on November 16, 1965, Walt and Roy Disney, along with Governor Haydon Burns, officially announced their Florida project, Disney World, to the public. The name was later changed by Roy to Walt Disney World after Walt's death on December 15, 1966.

Central Florida Matchbooks. Personal collection.
Central Florida Matchbooks. Personal collection.

The remainder of the matchbooks were from hotels or Walt Disney World. Limey Jim's was at the Hyatt Orlando at US 192 and I-4 in Kissimmee. Church Street Station was a popular hangout in the 1980's and early 90's. They definitely 'Let the Good Times Roll!'

What I'll call the most unique of the bunch is from Disney's Lake Buena Vista Club. The purple matchbook cover would be custom embossed with the family name holding the reservation. This one is hard to read, but the reservation was made by my uncle, so Lupfer appears on the matchbook. I recall two or three different family matchbook covers over the years, but this is the only one that remains.

It's been some time since I picked up a matchbook at a restaurant, hotel - well anywhere really. While I don't miss the smoke that often filled the rooms, I do miss these unique and free pieces of advertising.