Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Drake's, courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library

Limeade and love: Memories of Drake’s Sandwich Shop

By James Tobin
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(Photo by Debra Drower.)

(Photo by Debra Drower.)

When Herbert Hoover was president of the United States, a young fellow named Truman Tibbals took a job washing dishes for 35 cents an hour at Drake’s Sandwich Shop, 709 N. University. He worked his way up to waiting tables, and after a while he bought the place from old Mr. Drake.

He made just one change. He took out the tables and installed high-walled booths. From that day until he sold the shop when Bill Clinton was president, Truman Tibbals left everything else pretty much the same, including the name over the candy-stripe awning in front. Through the Great Depression, World War II, the Baby Boom, the Beatles, Vietnam, Watergate, disco, and Reagan, Drake’s sold chocolate cordials, orange marmalade sandwiches, pecan rolls, and limeade (fresh-squeezed, with the rind in the glass) to three generations of University of Michigan students. They adored the place.

The walls were a milky, Depression-era green, like faded linoleum. Shelves held scores of glass jars filled with tea (Alfalfa Mint, Travencore, and Constant Comment among them) and even more of candy—jelly beans, candy corn, rum raisins, malted milk balls, cherry cordials, strawberry cordials, raspberry cordials, shelf above shelf. Candy went out the door in bags adorned in red and white stripes, like the awning outside.

Depression-era green was the enduring color scheme. (Photo by Debra Drower.)

Depression-era green was the enduring color scheme. (Photo by Debra Drower.)

The sandwich menu included the “American cheese,” the “bacon and peanut butter,” the “chopped green olive nut,” the “cucumber and tomato,” and the “head lettuce” sandwich. Ten specialty sandwiches (double-deckers on toast) included the “Harvard” (boiled ham, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise), the “Princeton” (American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise), and the “Michigan” (chicken, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise). The mayo was real and the grilled cheese sandwiches were grilled with bona fide butter. Tea was poured from a teapot. Pecan rolls and cinnamon buns were imported from Quality Bakery on Main, but Mrs. Tibbals baked her own cakes in the basement. You wrote your own order with a tiny pencil on a green soda-shop pad.

The staff comprised Mr. Tibbals, Mrs. Tibbals, and a team of waitresses (plus the occasional waiter), many of whom appeared to be trained in the owners’ distinctly taciturn style of service. For people who dispensed small pleasures for a living, the Tibbalses made a gloomy pair. They were of opposite physical types, Mrs. Tibbals being massive and ponderous in her movements, Mr. Tibbals little and quick. They often could be seen perched on counter stools, well apart from each other, glowering at the wait staff. Students found them fearsome. But Mr. Tibbals was a pal of the Ann Arbor police, who often rolled in for breaks late at night.

Diners wrote their own orders on small pads with tiny pencils. (Photo by Debra Drower.)

Diners wrote their own orders on small pads with tiny pencils. (Photo by Debra Drower.)

The Tibbalses did bring in the occasional new item. They served toasted bagels with cream cheese years before bagel franchises spread through the Midwest, and they were early providers of Gummi bears. In the ’40s Mr. Tibbals opened the room upstairs for records and dancing. First it was the Walnut Room, later the Martian Room, but in the shop’s last decades the stairs were closed and the only thing left of the Martian Room was the sign. For a time there was dancing downstairs, too, and a burger bar in the back. But the innovations always faded, and back the Tibbalses would go to the candy, the tea, the limeade, and the sandwiches.

When the Michigan Alumnus solicited memories of Drake’s from readers, a surprising number said they had dated their future spouses there. The privacy of the tall-walled booths fostered intimacy. The “Coke date,” a perennial getting-to-know-you ritual, was popular at Drake’s, which was located just steps from the Michigan and State theaters. One night in January 1969, Rick and Roberta London got engaged at the corner of South University and Washtenaw, then strolled across the Diag to mark the occasion at Drake’s.

“I will forever associate the small wooden benches, a toasted bagel, and cup of tea at Drake’s with the wonderful emotions of that day,” Roberta London remembered.

Another who wrote in was Ron Marabate, who—also in the late 1960s—would soothe his mind with a cinnamon roll on North U after rigorous German classes in the Frieze Building.”Drake’s was also memorable whenever I was joined there by a young lady,” he wrote, “especially the one who later became my wife. I don’t remember much of my Deutsch, but Drake’s is still vivid in my mind.”Mr. Tibbals died in 1993. The place was sold about the same time. Bagels are still a staple at 709 N. University today, but the name outside is Bruegger’s.

Sources included Rich Kinsey, “Drake’s Was a Favorite Among Ann Arbor Cops,” AnnArbor.com, 11/18/2010.

James Tobin

James Tobin

JAMES TOBIN is an author and historian. His new book, The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency,was published by Simon & Schuster in November 2013. He contributes regularly to the U-M Heritage website, an online repository of historical stories and images about the University.

COMMENTS

  • Gwen Nelson - 1969

    Drakes was my favorite place to eat for two reasons, the best meatloaf sandwich in the whole wide world and a slice of chocolate cake to die for! I was so happy to see this article.

    Reply

  • Eileen Rafferty - 1973

    I love the merging of Drakes with the political awareness of the 60′s and early 70′s. I remember a spring day in 1972. I was a Drakes girl (forgot his name…Mr. Tibbals liked his ‘girls’) and there was a political rally going taking place on the Diag.

    I remember looking out at the action on the diag and feeling particular uncomfortable. Pecan rolls vs civil disobedience. I should have been on the diag.

    It was a moment of political awareness that I have never forgotten.

    Reply

  • Jacquelyn Sand - 1967

    I’m going back to A2 this summer and will miss Drakes. Their grilled cinnamon rolls, their bacon and egg salad sandwiches also made on the grill were all tempting delights. I remember well running into a friend on my way from the Frieze building on several occasions and cutting my next class (Quelle horreur!), completely out of character, to go to Drakes where he and I made up our own language and had what seemed to be “real” conversations.

    Reply

  • Richard Layman - 1988 (should have been 1982)

    You say “three generations” but a generation of students lasts four years, so it was more than 15 generations in student time (like dog years).

    Reply

  • Lynn Swanson - 1976

    Drake’s was the first place I had lunch my first day on campus. It was 100 degrees in July and I, being a dance major, had been let out for break from a highly heated Barbour Gym. Sipping that paper cup of fresh limeade under a shady tree is a memory as great as taking class in that beautiful space. My niece was brought to watch me dance at Power Center performances, but her more vivid memory is always of going to Drake’s.

    Reply

  • Bob Materka - 1966

    The back-bar where sandwiches were prepared and the limeade machine sat is at AnnArborFarmhouse.com.
    The candy scale, “Pie or Cake 35 cents”, and “depression” green end booth are at AnnArborBedandBreakfast.com.

    Does anyone have picture of the Limeade machine?

    Bob

    Reply

  • Mark Dworkin - 1985

    I was introduced to cucumber sandwiches by Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest” but first tasted one at Drakes and was hooked. Also, the marzipan creations were prominent in the counter display. Great memories.

    Reply

  • Bob Materka - 1966

    The back-bar where sandwiches were prepared and the limeade machine sat is at AnnArborFarmhouse.com.
    The candy scale, Pie or Cake 35 cents, and depression green end booth are at AnnArborBedandBreakfast.com.

    Does anyone have picture of the Limeade machine?

    Mr. Tibbals died in 1994 and his children in Tampa and La Jolla inherited the building and leased it to Brueggers. The Tibbals Trust still owns the building.

    Bob Materka 734 678 6023 cell

    Reply

  • Constance Crump

    Mr. and Mrs. Tibbals were not effusive. However, they were cordial, not glowering. Mrs. Tibbals was very protective of her young staff. At Drake’s, the customer was not always right. It was a wonderful spot, never to be repeated.

    Reply

  • nella davis ray - 1985

    I was surprised to read that the Tibbalses were a gloomy pair and that students found them fearsome. I remember Drake’s as a lovely step back in time with pecan rolls to die for. Old man Tibbalses had probably mellowed up by my time in 1985.

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  • Karen Manders - 1983/1986

    I was a “waitress” at Drakes from 1980-1986, and have such fond memories of it. Jim, your description of the Tibbals is perfect. They were somewhat taciturn and gloomy, but after working for them for so many years, I saw a different side of them. They were from a different era but in their way were very kind. I remember a few regulars at lunch — names escape me now, but the nurse who had tuna salad on toast, no extra mayo and Mr. ? who worked at Van Bovens and was so kind — he ordered a BLT, bacon well cooked!

    Reply

  • Stephen Selbst - 1976, 1980

    Nice story, Jim. I wooed my first serious girlfriend at Drake’s, spending many hours in those green booths.

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  • Rebecca Johnson Melvin - MILS '88

    Grilled cheese and best limeade ever at Drakes, you betcha. Deluxe dining on my student budget but still memorable after all these years. Dullest color of green I ever saw is still memorable, too.

    Reply

  • Michelle Melis

    My father was a student here in the 50′s and he often spoke of Drake’s. I remember on a family visit to Ann Arbor in the late 60′s, I had my first limeade and was hooked. Any time we made the trip up from Toledo, I begged to go to Drake’s for lunch. As soon as I had my driver’s license, I found myself spending weekends here in the old bookstores and lunching at Drake’s for the traditional limeade in the Martian Room. I was very excited to come to work at the U in 1993, but saddened as that was the end to a lovely childhood and young adult experience. I will always remember Drake’s fondly. Thank you for this article, it made my day.

    Reply

  • Marcia Westfall - 1960

    A landmark for sure though I was a young lass and then a student at U.M. & remember it well. I’m sure the place was filled with the old U-High gang[s] many years. One question: does anyone know the name of the candy store that later became Blimpee Burgers? Thanks.

    Reply

  • Gene Hansen - BA 67, JD 74

    I started going to Drakes with my mother and sister for hot pecan rolls and coffee after concerts at Hill Auditorium while in high school. My undergrad years were nourished by wonderful triple burgers with grilled-in onions made by my friend Mitch, who ran the grill at night. Wonderful memories.

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  • Anonymous

    I remember not knowing how one got sandwiches until my senior year, and I asked the person working the counter. They told me the process and it was a life changing event. I loved the BLT’s. When my brother was going to U of M, which was mid-60′s, the Martian Room was still open, and they featured a great hamburger called the M-burger.

    Reply

  • Mary Ellen Vaydik - 1964

    Great article–I had forgotten the little green order pads, but never the big green booths. As for menu items, the combo of a limeade and a swiss cheeseburger with grilled onions was heaven after a tough morning of classes.

    Reply

  • Mary Lu Barth - 1968, 1972

    I have the fondest memories of Drakes, sitting in one of the booths savoring my favorite treat, their cinnamon roll! They would slice it in half between the top and the bottom, butter each half, and put them on the grill just long enough to lightly brown the roll and warm it up! Ah, heaven! It was the best way ever to spend an hour!

    Reply

  • Marsha Davison - 1991

    Mr. Tibbals did glower quite a bit, and by the time I worked there in the late 80s, he was known for cracking his cane against a booth if he thought you were loitering, inspiring some fear amongst the younger patrons and employees. Mrs. Tibbals did not make the cakes. I believe that was Agnes. And the Martian Room and Walnut Room was separate rooms, I believe. Vastly different decor. Last but not least, “he” did not sell the place. It was sold after his death. Thanks for the memories!

    Reply

  • Teresa Arnold - 1974

    Friends introduced me to Drake’s as a freshman. I loved the limeade. A grilled cheese and tomato sandwich was a special treat. The toasted cinnamon rolls were a well-deserved study break with the guy I eventually married. I introduced him to Drake’s!

    Reply

  • Amy Goldwater - 1976

    I had my first outing at Drakes as a freshman with my new roommate. This article brought back such wonderful memories of those A2 years… It became a favorite place and I’m sure the pecan rolls helped with the “freshman fifteen” :)

    Reply

  • Betsy Cregger - 1973

    I can smell eht delicious aroma of Drake’s just reading about it. I and my fellow French and Russian majors were particularly fond of the grilled pecan rolls and tea that we often had as a morning break OH and they had the best bittersweet chocolate sundaes ever!

    Reply

  • Carolyn McGannon - 1972

    Ohhh the nostalgia! I worked at Drakes 1970-72 and yes, Mr. and Mrs. T (as I referred to them) were quite the opposites, as described. Working later in the evening with Mr. T on the next day’s massive tuna fish salad mixture brought out the best in him! He also saw my OCD nature and complimented quietly when noticing I’d gone ahead and restocked the candies and teas (an extensive task, for sure). Even though I swam, refereed intramurals and fanatically “frisbeed” in the Diag, I still gained weight: workers got a Christmas present $ amount in food which we personally tallied! I learned many things working there that have helped me throughout my life!

    Reply

  • Amy Rosenberg Greene - 1977

    Thank you for bringing back the memories! Drakes was a favorite place to take off the chill with a pot of tea. Sad to hear it is no more.

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  • Robert Barrie - 1979

    I went to Drake’s as an elementary school kid and bought “bridge mix” which was a peculiar but tasty assortment of chocolates. The pecan rolls, grilled with butter, were terrific. I came back as a grad student and studied in those “church pew” seats, sipping soda or coffee. Follett’s was around the corner, Kresge’s almost next door, and Moe’s. Great times in Ann Arbor made better with a pecan roll!

    Reply

  • J Kabza - never thank you

    Very nice article, Mr. Tobin. And a pretty good history of the restaurant. They didn’t just sell commercially available tea. Drakes was one of the only places I’ve ever found bricks of tea, which nomads in china once ate, after cooking it in butter. These blocks sat around in their glass cases in the sixties. When I was soup cook at Mark’s coffee house, beginning in my fifteenth year after return from commune life in Los Angelos, I used to go in to Drake’s to purchase cans of Melita coffee when we ran out of Paramount or Cadillac coffees. They also had an extensive menu of herbal teas, and were, other than the health food store on west Jefferson, the only place to purchase them. There was a lovely metal model of the Drake’s delivery van from the thirties, stolen as the end of the restaurant approached. Mr. Tibbals was difficult, reminiscent of Boris Karloff at times. However, I would like to point out the couples compensatory kindnesses. When a friend of mine cracked up on LSD they paid the cab to the hospital. They also loaned money to many of their staff to help them complete their education at the university (!) and I believe they didn’t insist on repayment, it was an option. One of the nicest aspects of Drake’s was its proximity to the concerts at Hill auditorium…a late piece of pie and a cup of tissane or coffee allowing time to mull over a concert by Vladimir Horowitz or the May festival…a long list of patrons should ensue, Basil Rathbone, Joseph Brodsky, some of whom signed the guest book. The Tibbals family can be proud of having kept the doors open for so many decades, providing a refuge from the commercial experiments that dominate state street then and now.

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  • Maria Espinosa - 1980

    Oh I so loved Drakes! It was a little bit of heaven between classes. Yum! So sorry it’s gone…
    What about Miller’s Ice Cream on South University? I used to work there in the summer sometimes!

    Reply

  • Tina Tolin - 1970 M.A.

    Reading the complimentary letters about Drake’s Sandwich Shop left a sour taste in my mouth. A sour taste left in my mouth would not be so bad if it were the only thing left. However, due to a BLT on toast containing a BB, a broken tooth was also left in my mouth, after having lunch at Drake’s. Now, a broken tooth, the day before Thanksgiving can be tolerated, if one is treated with courtesy and dignity. Unfortunately, that was not my experience at Drake’s. After telling Mrs. Tibbals about my tooth, her gruff reply was,
    “That’s impossible! Are you a student?” The implication was that nothing could go wrong in her restaurant, and that I must be suspect if I was a student. I never received anything close to an apology, although the dental bill was finally paid. But it was like, excuse me, pulling teeth to get it paid. The treatment I received was humiliating, and after reading all these positive letters, I can still taste the sour!

    Reply

  • Margaret Lejuste - 1971

    I worked at Drake’s during my junior and senior years, and it was like a second family for me. The day I started was Drake’s 40th anniversary and they were selling the food at 1929 prices – so the place was packed! I remember Mr. Tibbals taking my picture, which he did for ewvery employee so he would remember who they were if he was asked to write a recomendation later. Yes, the Tibbals first appeared gruff and they did work opposite hours, but they were kind and caring. I remember working in the basement in the evening cutting ropes of red licorace to three foot lengths and eventually Mr. T wouold send down a cup of coffee to counteract all the remaining inches of candy that I ate. I also remember Mrs. T laughing silently when we made a joke. If you worked hard, they liked you and supported you. I learned to run a counter, make limeade, chocolate sodas, egg cream, egg nog; and I still can taste the meatloaf sandwich with tomato. The white chocolate pretzel dipped in hot fudge was an especially good treat to sneak. Thanks for the great memories. Drakes was a special place to work and Truman and Millie Tibbals were good people.

    Reply

  • Chris Duffy - 1992

    Still got my Drake’s miniature maize football!

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  • robert Cope - '59, '61, '66

    As one of those who served the upstairs tables, even for a time, in the darkened cabaret, I found fond memories throughout the story and particularly the comments. All, of course, except for the broken tooth. Mrs. Tibbles was less forth coming than the boy who became the boss. Thanks for the history.

    Reply

  • Scott Grannan - 1971

    I was an Ann Arbor policeman in 67-68 and often went to Drake’s around 2 AM on lunch break since there was nowhere else to eat at that time. We would go in the back door, which Mr. Tibbals left unlocked, and he would let us make our own sandwiches while he was preparing food for the next day. We would tell him what we made and he would tell us the price. I always remember he cooked bacon in a lot of oil and said it was so it wouldn’t get too crisp.

    Reply

  • Catherine Alloway - 1977, 1978

    This was my favorite place to study between classes. The booths provided space and privacy and had some magic effect on my productivity. Limeade, a great tea selection (ahead of its time), and pecan rolls got me through homesickness, tests, finals, and other challenges of college life. It was “cafe society” at its best. Drake’s remains a large part of my great memories of A2. I still can’t make homemade limeaid as well as they did!

    Reply

  • Patty Feito - 1982

    Blessings and thanks for this article! My first week away from home in Ann Arbor and a fellow student, Emily Smith, promptly dried my tears by introducing me to tea and cake at Drake’s. Emily, if you’re out there, I wish you many grilled cheese sandwiches and lots of succsss.

    Reply

  • Pace Gary - 1965(MS), 1970 (PH.D)

    As a student in 1959 I worked the lunch counter to earn money for an engagement ring. I did dishes at the Student Health Center for my meals. I remember the tension among the staff during rush hour. Whatever was said during that time was forgotten afterward. I also remember throwing or catching pints of milk from one end of the counter to the other while others were serving folks in between.

    I did earn enough for the ring. She accepted.

    Reply

  • Linda Jones - 1969

    My mother graduated from Michigan in the 1940s. She stayed in the area and often took us to Drake’s as children in the 50s and 60s. She used to tell us how she and my father would go to Drakes when they were dating and split a hamburger. If they had extra money, each of them would have a whole hamburger. My sisters and I remember the pecan rolls fondly, as well as a very odd candy known as “moth balls” – which we all loved. Thank you for as very nice little bit of nostalgia. My mother would have loved the story.

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  • Harold Duris - 1951

    Harold was a native of AA and I (Dorene, his wife was also a native of AA. We knew of Drakes prio to the 50′s. During our high school days this was the place to go for the Ann Arbor High students and the St.Thomas High students. Twas a great “HangOut”. There were no sandwiches in those days but the best flavored cokes – Choc., Cherry, Marshmellow. Did not dare stir the marshmellow coke or it would spill all over. The next best item was the Tin Roof (ice cream choc.& nuts)served in a Glass.
    The booths had mirrors in them and Gus,(Mr.Tibbles Dad)was in charge of keeping us all in good behavior. He could stand at the back or front of the store and look into the mirrors. We were all very well behaved cause no one wanted to be on Gus’s bad side.
    We would stop in at lunch time and then again after school. Harold continued to go to Drakes after high school coz I was still in high school for two more years. We were high school sweethearts and married in 195l just before he graduated from Michigan. Our days of drakes ended as we moved away so we never enjoyed any of the sandwiches, etc. but still remember the great cokes and that delicious tin roof in a glass…..

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  • Brenda Kraus - 1983

    I remember limeade and tuna on who wheat bread. Yum:)

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  • Rob Simmons - 1987

    I remember the beverages included a glass of cream.

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  • Jim Wolf - 1968

    Me and my wife, whom I met at Michigan freshman year, loved Drakes. I am still hunting for a banana cake as good as the one at Drakes and every few years I imagine myself eating a piece of that cake.

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  • Anna Ahronheim - 1976

    I broke a tooth on a Drake’s Jordan Almond, but it was so delicious I had no regrets.

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  • Kris Bloomer - 1981

    My roommate and I went to Drakes before every home game for a breakfast of grilled pecan rolls and coffee. It was a favorite ritual for both of us for 4 years!

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  • David Passman - 1964

    I loved the limeade and I loved the pecan rolls, so on a visit when I was already an alum, I ordered them together, and the combination was terrible. I never got over it.

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  • Jim MacBain - 1967

    The grilled pecan rolls, smothered in butter, were to die for. Thanks for the article.

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  • Kathie Weinmann - 1968

    Growing up in A2, my jr. & high school pals spent a lot of time at Drakes. A cherished boyfriend asked me to go steady there, after several ‘coke dates’ (also there). I first tasted Constant Comment tea there. The large jars of candies were never-ending, so many to try. Many of us cried when it closed. Wish I’d bought a booth…darn.

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  • Rebecca Vizulis - 1973

    When I used to visit my boyfriend(now husband of 41 years)at Michigan in the late 60s, and as grad students later, Drakes was one of our favorite places. Coming from Kalamazoo, I had never seen a bagel or sampled Constant Comment tea. How saddened we were the day we arrived from Boston on a visit to Ann Arbor to find the shop had closed and everything was for sale. Now we have a daily reminder of Drakes sitting on our kitchen counter – one of the penny candy jars with the prices still on it! Certainly a special place worth remembering.

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  • Lisa (Krajewski) McFadden - 1981

    Drake’s was a favorite stop from my childhood, when I would go to a show with my mom, a regional theatre critic. We would drive to A2 from Flint, stop in to Drake’s for mint lentils from the candy shelf, then return for grilled cinnamon rolls and limeade before the drive home. When I became a student at UM, it was unchanged — and a place to go for a taste of happiness; solace; and, occasionally, to appease hunger. Such a fond memory!

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  • Peggy Poznanski - 1981, 1986

    I worked at Drake\’s for five years between 1980 and 1986. There were both the Martian Room AND the Walnut room upstairs. Most people never saw th Walnut Room because it had been turned into storage while the Martian Room was at that time sometimes opened up for overflow when Hill Auditorium had a concert. In the Walnut Room were the famous electric chick that was part of every fall window display, accompanied by a box of petrified candy corn marked \”window corn\”. Having gone through the depression, Mr. Tibbals wasn\’t about to waste any money on putting out fresh candy corn for the giant chick to dip down to peck. By the time I worked there, the cakes were not made by Mrs Tibbals but by a different lady who made 2 and a half coconut cakes every time, because, Mr. Tibbals said, she couldn\’t do the multiplication to make an even number of layers. The half cake was particularly sought-after because the entire flat face, created by piling two half layers on top of each other, had a grater amount of frosting on it. The memories go on and on. Some of my best college stories revolve around Mr. Tibbals and Drake\’s and I still make my tunafish salad the exact way that Mr. Tibbals insist upon — that is, one hard-boiled egg for each can of tuna, the tuna crumbled up to strands by hand so it was never lumpy, with mayo, mustard and NEVER any pickle relish. Thanks, Mr. Tobin. Still miss my stained blue knee-length smock!

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  • Zoe Beckerman

    I really think it’s a crime that the town didn’t name this a historic landmark. Do you know what happened to the interior once it was sold? Did they just demolish everything or please tell me someone bought and preserved the booths, counter, phone booth, etc.

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  • Tom Van Ness - 1991

    Great story. Great memories! Unfortunately, Drake’s is gone, but we loved it so, we created T-shirts to memorialize it. If you’re interested, you can find them at http://longlosttees.com/category/annarbor/ – Thanks Mr. Tobin for a great article!

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  • Mary Van Bonn - 1979

    I worked at Drakes from 1975 until 1981. I have nothing but praises to sing of the Tibbals. Yep, on the outside you would make the observation that they were a gloomy pair but you did not know them. Mrs. Tibbals would sit everyday at the counter, ordering a sandwich with lots of extra mayo and watching our every move. And, she therefore seemed to always know which of the staff needed just a little word of encouragement, and gave it freely, out from under all that glaring. But it came, observation and encouragement and I loved her for it. She pushed me to do better in all things. Fear usually settled in when Mr. Tibbals arrived in the evenings. He would come in late and often stay all night making tuna salad and fixings in the basement but when he arrived we all knew he was going to make sure all things were in order. I remember being really afraid of him. But, when I would go down in to the basement to stock items I always found him to be a kind gentleman, quite different from the face upstairs. It was not uncommon that he would call me over to give me an envelope and tell me that he and Mrs, Tibbals really appreciated my work, and inside would be an extra $100. I loved the Tibbals, and I loved Drakes and I loved working there and I am grateful for the work ethic they instilled within me which has blessed me to this day. In 1982 I moved away and when I returned years later to see Drakes gone I was, and still am, disappointed that no one was able to save the fantastic nostalgia of that place. I am quite sure I am not the only one whose life was changed there. Sigh. (does anyone know where either of the 2 sons are today?)

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  • Julie Nelson-Gal

    It was my first day visiting UM as a high school junior from NJ and my mother took me to Drakes. It was May 1st (Hash Bash Day), the diag was humming, the menu and color of the place transported me to my grandpa’s house, and a guy in line tried to pick me up. In the course of a few minutes I knew this was where I wanted to go to school. A couple years later I introduced my future husband to the cream cheese/olive and nut sandwiches, the grilled cinnamon rolls and malted milk balls–or so he tells me, my memories of the place were already locked in.

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  • Michael Tibbals

    FYI My grandfather did not sell Drakes before his death and the building is still owned by the Family, we all miss Drakes some more than others. But to us Grand Children it was where we would go to visit Grandmother and Grandfather, it was so sad to see it go but the Family had roots elsewhere and could not keep it going, as much as we all would love to still have that special place to go.
    P.S. I still Have a green booth if anyone is interested, i dont live in A2 but would like to see it go to someone that would be able to share it with others, comes compplete with gum under the table.

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  • Fran Holt

    My future husband and I had our first date there 55 years ago. I think we drank hot chocolate, and I know we enjoyed the privacy of the green booths. We went back there frequently and are sad that it’s no longer there.

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  • Yooh-yung Kim - 1992

    I worked Drakes during high school and college and loved it. I thought the article captured Drake’s pretty well. I still remember how to make limeades and the sandwiches, and i loved the variety of tea and candy which we were allowed to eat. Their grandson Dave who managed the place would make me breakfast as we opened shop. Lots of colorful characters worked and patroned the place. I was so sad to see it go it was so unique.

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  • Michael Kelly

    Drake’s had the rudest and surliest workers I have ever encountered and the owners weren’t any better. I shed no tears when the place closed.

    Reply

  • Patty Gray - 1982

    After reading all those effusive comments, I laughed so hard when I got to Michael Kelly\’s surly comment! Physician, heal thyself. Drake\’s was the most unique place on earth. My parents went on dates to Drake\’s when they were UM students in the fifties, and I hung out there as a student in the late seventies. My roommate Alexandra Kargilis worked there (I remember how she used to love to pronounce the words \’MISTER TIBBALS\’ in a slightly ominous tone), and her descriptions of working for the Tibbalses echoes all the comments here. I remember them sitting on their separate stools and I also thought they looked scary and surly… But then I looked around at the over-the-top whimsy of the whole place and realised that if they could offer that amazing variety of tastes and sensations there had to be more going on than meets the eye. I loved, loved, loved Drakes and just couldn\’t believe it possible that the whole place could be gutted. To me, that marked the moment when Ann Arbor\’s soul was forever lost. But reading these comments makes me realise that is not entirely true-Ann Arbor\’s soul is in all these memories, and whatever our generation, it is Drake\’s we all had in common.

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  • Patty Gray

    After reading all those effusive comments, I laughed so hard when I got to Michael Kelly’s surly comment! Physician, heal thyself. Drake’s was the most unique place on earth. My parents went on dates to Drake’s when they were U-M students in the fifties, and I hung out there as a student in the late seventies. My roommate, Alexandra Kargilis, worked there (I remember how she used to love to pronounce the words ‘MISTER TIBBALS’ in a slightly ominous tone), and her descriptions of working for the Tibbalses echoes all the comments here. I remember them sitting on their separate stools and I also thought they looked scary and surly… But then I looked around at the over-the-top whimsy of the whole place and realized that if they could offer that amazing variety of tastes and sensations there had to be more going on than meets the eye. I loved, loved, loved Drake’s and just couldn’t believe it possible that the whole place could be gutted. To me, that marked the moment when Ann Arbor’s soul was forever lost. But reading these comments makes me realize that is not entirely true-Ann Arbor’s soul is in all these memories, and whatever our generation, it is Drake’s we all had in common.

    Reply

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