Saturday, June 6, 2009

Great Outdoors ~ Addison, Texas

It was our place. The place where father and son would go to enjoy a meal, talk freely, and savor the moment. We'd talk politics, religion, school, his job, etc... He wanted to talk with me about girls, but I was never too comfortable with that. Just enough to let him know, you can relax Dad, I definitely like girls. We first discovered the Great Outdoors near Bachman Lake sometime in the early 1980s while I was still in high school. On sporadic weekend college flights home from Lubbock, he'd meet me at Love Field and we'd beeline over there. My first job out of school was near Addison Airport, so we relocated to the Carrollton store. The wife and I had relocated to Colorado, but on trips home, with the Bachman Lake restaurant now closed, we'd still venture up to Carrollton for each visit. Or on one particular business trip I was working near LBJ and Central, so we'd go to the Forest Ln one (now also closed). Finally, after we relocated back to DFW, I had an office near Belt Line and the Tollway, so we made the Belt Line and Montfort location our new home base for once a week lunches. Today, this is the only one I go to - about once a year when I see my accountant and sit in silence and reminisce. NE Tarrant even had one when we moved back - in North Richland Hills. Obviously I took it for granted, as it closed nearly as quick as we arrived (sometime in mid 2003). The Great Outdoors remains primarily a Dallas area institution, with one lone Ft. Worth location.

The ritual was always the same. I'd get a double #1 (Ham, Salami), or a double #3 (Turkey Pastrami) and he'd get a single #6 or #12 (the ones with the most variety of meats). Always on white. Then it was time for the glorious "Works". As one African American worker said to me with a certain ghetto street tone "THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE SANDWICH!!". Incidentally the workers, over the years, have been uniformly great - many had worked there for over a decade (rare for fast food). So back to the Works. I'd get it without tomatoes. On queue, Dad would automatically say "give me his tomatoes" and snicker-laugh unconsciously. I would dress it with mustard (regular), and he would always say a "big blob of mayonnaise". We'd each get a pickle spear (15 cents!). I'd usually go a chocolate chip cookie. He'd get Diet Pepsi and I'd choose a Mountain Dew.

Then the games would begin. Dad would try to wolf down his sandwich as fast as he possibly could stuff into his mouth. I'm no slow eater either, though I would put down the sandwich and chew the food at least. Why did he do this? So he could smoke, that's why. Back in the days when you could still smoke indoors at restaurants. His goal was to get in as many cancer sticks as possible before I would say "it's cold, let's go". See, since the Great Outdoors is a deli with meats, the place is always kept at a frigid temperature. In the winter, we'd be dressed appropriately, but in the summer... are you kidding me? Plus he'd just assume spend all day there smoking ciggy's and talking about whatever, and I'd rather actually have a life and maybe see a friend, or do something else other than talk about the military ex-officers club. Or his sales figures. Or my low grades.... So while sitting there enjoying my sandwich, he'd already reached into his shirt front pocket and grabbed a cigarette. And he'd puff away on it and instinctively reach for another one. And another. And another... so I had to time it perfectly. Just as he put one out, and began reaching for another, I'd say "let's go, it's cold!". "Already?" he'd plea. "Dad!" "Ok..." he'd acquiesce.

Very sadly, it's not something we can do anymore. Dad passed away near the end of 2003 at the too young age of 68.

This post is dedicated to my father, who I miss dearly. And Dad, I look forward to sharing a double #1 with you in heaven.

Website

Great Outdoor Sub Shop on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Steven R. Staton said...

I completely agree with your comments about how the GO brings back memories. I've been a regular customer since 1978, and I miss (dearly) the Bachman Lake, Forest Lane, and Skillman Road stores. Now-a-days I visit the Montfort Rd., Campbell Rd., and (newest member) McKinney restaurants. Montfort brings back memories of working in HS at Fotomat, and how much I enjoyed eating there before going to work. The food is still great, and they may be imitated by the chains, but they'll always be the "Great Original" for me.

Another Hot Six on Wheat, garçon!

RJG said...

Hi Steven - Sorry for the delay in publishing your comment - we've been out of town.

Thanks for sharing your comments on the Great Outdoors!