First Eat'n Park opens, causing a traffic jam on Route 51.
On June 6, 1949, Eat'n Park began with a revolutionary concept. Led by Larry Hatch, an executive of the Isaly Company of that era, a group of Pittsburghers built a tiny, two-tone yellow, 13-seat restaurant in Pittsburgh's suburban South Hills and, at 2:00 p.m., sent 10 bustling carhops out to serve customers right in their cars. And what a revolution it was. The restaurant was so busy that it caused an enormous traffic jam on Saw Mill Run Boulevard and had to close to regroup a scant six hours after it opened. But the votes were in and the die was cast. Eat'n Park, one of the area's first carhop restaurants, was a smash hit.
Eat'n Park Strawberry Pie was perfected by the daughter of our founder.
Bill Moore, grandson of our founder, Larry Hatch:
“I take great pride in my family’s history with Eat'n Park, but one of the greatest contributions my family has given Eat'n Park is the Strawberry Pie. My mother came up with the recipe in our kitchen at home. My father, Bob Moore, tested many types of strawberry glazes that were, in his words, "god-awful." He came home and asked my mom, Claire, if she could do better, and boy, did she ever! She made several pies and submitted them to our neighbors in Scott Township. When the comments came back - “too sweet,” “too tart,” etc., Mom hung in there to perfect the recipe. After quite a few rounds and many taste tests later, the neighbors finally all agreed that she had produced a delicious pie. I guess our guests agree, too. It’s become a favorite of so many people.
A little known fact about our Strawberry Pie is that Eat'n Park was one of the first places ever to receive fresh strawberries (or any other produce for that matter) by air freight. In 1962, Eat'n Park served fresh Strawberry Pie throughout the winter, with strawberries shipped from Plant City, Florida. At the time, this was unheard of. Another little known fact is that I make the best Strawberry Pie in the company. It must be in my genes!”
For customers who would rather eat inside than out in the car, Eat'n Park opens its first front dining room.
Though we’d continue to offer carhop service for another 16 years, this marked the beginning of Eat’n Park as you know us today.
Automated order-taking machines are in. Four years later, carhop service is out.
Our carhop days will always have a special place in our hearts, but dine-in service was the way of our future.
We introduced our first children's menu, first hostess service and first modern-sized restaurant.
We love kids! Our kids’ menu was our first step into our evolution into the family-friendly restaurant that our guests now know and love.
We begin offering round-the-clock service, with some locations staying open 24 hours.
This tradition continues at many of our locations, where we’re happy to serve both night owls and early risers.
Our famous Soup & Salad bar opens.
Like everything else at Eat’n Park, our famous Soup & Salad Bar has evolved over the years, and now includes not only our fresh salad toppings, delectable soups, and fresh-baked breads, but also incorporates hand-cut fruit and locally-sourced vegetables in season.
First Children's Hospital Free Care Fund campaign.
Now known as our Caring for Kids campaign, this fundraiser continues to this day. To date, we’ve raised over $8.5 million companywide for local children’s hospitals.
Our beloved Christmas Star commercial first airs.
How did this classic commercial come to be? In 1982, Eat’n Park was just beginning to blossom into the family restaurant chain that you’re now familiar with, and the company was prospering. Our CEO at the time, Jim Broadhurst, wanted to create a holiday card on video to thank the city of Pittsburgh for their support of Eat’n Park.
An ageless favorite was born. The idea of the relationship between the tree and the star illustrates a timeless holiday lesson – by helping another, you’re helping yourself, and you’re making the world a better place.
First Eat'n Park Bakery opens.
To this day, we bake our pies, breads, cookies, and more in-house. But it wasn’t for another year that our most famous bakery product – the Smiley Cookie – came into existence.
We introduced our our iconic Smiley Cookie for kids visiting our restaurants.
Smiley got his start as a humble cookie in our first bakery in 1986, but he soon realized his destiny as the official icon of Eat’n Park, the Place for Smiles. Now, millions of Smiley Cookies are enjoyed by our guests every year, and Smiley himself spreads the love at more than 250 community events annually. And that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
Our Light'n Delightful entrees debut, later to be renamed Eat'n Smart.
Our commitment to offering healthy options for our guests started more than 20 years ago. Today, the Eat’n Smart designation on our menu indicates items that have a lower caloric and fat content, for guests who watching what they eat
Our Smiley Cookie hot air balloon lifts off for the first time.
It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s a hot air balloon in the shape of a Smiley Cookie! Flying the friendly skies took on a whole new meaning when we launched our Smiley Cookie hot air balloon.
We created our FarmSource Program to connect our restaurants with local farmers and manufacturers.
The introduction of our FarmSource program in 2002 pioneered the creation of the infrastructure needed to get local products into the hands of our suppliers and onto the plates of our guests. Through FarmSource, we work with more than 120 local farmers and producers, all within a 125-mile radius of our units. In fact, we have been recognized by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) for our ongoing support of local agriculture through FarmSource. This program greatly reduces the distance food travels from harvest to table. This decreases air pollution, water pollution, traffic congestion and the need for oil.
Because of FarmSource, our guests enjoy fresh, wholesome foods, including:
- Produce that is selected through farmer-based organizations
- Dairy products that come from independently owned and operated local farm families that choose not to treat their herds with rBGH/rBST
- Meat that is produced at USDA-inspected facilities, which source their animals from farms that are within the region and ensure high standards of animal care, well-being and nutrition
- Products from local artisans who devote their time, energy and passion to a limited line of products and emphasize high quality and unique flavors
Team Smiley and Smiley's Cookie Cruiser made their debut.
Our first Cookie Cruiser was an antique 1974 DIVCO Milk truck - because what goes better with cookies than milk? The Cookie Cruiser and its operators, Team Smiley, would visit local neighborhood events with a sweet treat for all those in attendance.
While we have since retired the original Cookie Cruiser and introduced a new one, the program has only expanded since its inception. Team Smiley and the Cookie Cruiser give out more than 120,000 Smiley Cookies annually and will visit over 200 events.
Smiley Cookies become available for sale online.
To meet the demand from Pittsburgh ex-patriots living across the country, we began making our signature Smiley Cookies available online for shipment to displaced Eat’n Park fans.
Eat'n Park Restaurants go smoke free, for the health of our guests and team members.
On September 11, 2008, smoke-free restaurant legislation went into effect. However, more than a year before that, on May 31, 2007, we decided to make all of our restaurants smoke-free voluntarily. It wasn’t an easy decision at the time. We knew that many of our guests would love the change, but we also knew that some of our guests who smoke would be disappointed by our decision. We’re in the hospitality business. Trying to make everyone happy is what we do. It’s in our blood! This would be a choice where we would have to make some people happy and others not.
The group that was most important to us in this decision was our team members. The Eat’n Park experience is delivered every day by our more than 8,000 team members. The evidence is pretty clear that working in an environment with second-hand smoke is not good for your health. When the state of PA (Ohio had already gone smoke-free in December 2006) delayed its smoke-free legislation, we felt we couldn’t, in good conscience, continue to ask our team members to work in an environment that we knew to be hazardous to their health.
We have received tremendous positive feedback and support for our decision, and we have never regretted it.
Our very first pickup window opens at our Monroeville restaurant.
Eat’n Park takeout reaches all the way back to our roots. With the addition of our first pickup window, we made it even more convenient for our busy guests to pick up a made-to-order meal on their way home. The response to this new feature was outstanding, and we’ve since added pickup windows to many additional locations.
Our online store expands to become SmileyCookie.com. Smiley Cookies can now be shipped anywhere in the U.S., and to APO/FPO addresses.
SmileyCookie.com makes it easy for you to share a smile with anyone, anywhere, for any occasion. You can even order customized cookies to match wedding colors, sport teams, and more, and have your Smiley Cookies delivered fresh nearly anywhere to as many addresses as you choose! Though they travel cross-country, all of our cookies are still baked fresh and hand-iced in our bakery in Pittsburgh, PA.
We constructed and opened the first LEED-certified Eat'n Park restaurant in the City of Pittsburgh - in the Waterworks shopping center.
Designed to reduce energy consumption and overall impact on the environment, LEED-certified buildings often have unique (and sometimes not-so-obvious) features that contribute to the structure’s energy efficiency. The Waterworks Eat’n Park is no exception. It's packed, inside and out, with features that reduce our environmental impact. Some, like the 40-foot wind turbine that will generate some of the restaurant’s power, will be obvious as soon as you pull into the parking lot. Others, like our induction stovetops, aren’t visible to most visitors.
We announced our commitment to children's health with the introduction of our LifeSmiles program.
Eat'n Park is known as the Place for Smiles, and nothing makes us smile more than the health and wellness of our guests and neighbors in the communities we serve. That's why we created a program that we affectionately call….LifeSmiles. Simply put, LifeSmiles is Eat'n Park's investment in a healthy future for our children and their families. We have committed in invest $1 million and 20,000 volunteer hours to benefit children's health and wellness by 2015, helping to ensure that our youngest guests grow up healthy.
Mini Smiley Cookies, a bite-sized version of the original, are available for sale.
Big taste in a small package, our Mini Smiley Cookies are just what the name suggests – a smaller version of our iconic treat. Kids now have the option to choose a Mini or Original Smiley Cookie, while the young at heart can purchase them by the dozen from our bakeries.
Smiley Celebrates his 25th Birthday with celebrations at our restaurants.
Our iconic cookie celebrated his quarter-century milestone in style. In addition to company-wide celebrations in our restaurants, Smiley’s birthday was commemorated by renowned artist Burton Morris via specially-commissioned Smiley art. Morris unveiled his bright, cheerful design at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol museum – a fitting location, because not only has Morris’ work been compared to Warhol’s, but like Warhol, Morris is also a Pittsburgh native.
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