Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when visiting a restaurant was a rare, special occasion. The only fast food was either "walk-up" or "drive-up"; there was no "drive-through" and it was not that fast. It was the age of the Four Food Groups, and many people had the idea that "fat" was not only one of those four groups, but also an essential nutrient. In those times, one of Denver's favorite, "sit down", family restaurants serving a variety of deep-fried, comfort foods served the old-fashioned way, (with plenty of saturated fat), was the Denver Drumstick.
There were five locations scattered all around the Denver area, so that no matter where you lived, you could visit the Drumstick, enjoy the same food, and eat it in the same environment. All the restaurants were very similar and all featured a special attraction for kids; the electric trains.
In every Drumstick restaurant, (or at least every one I visited), there was a model train that made its way around the inside perimeter of the restaurant on a track built near the ceiling. People, (especially kids), could watch the train as it traveled on the track through a painted mural of Colorado scenery around the dining room, through a tunnel, into the kitchen and back out again. It was a good way to keep fidgety kids entertained and occupied while waiting for dinner, and was a sort of theme for the restaurant.
Expanding on the train theme, the Drumstick featured take out that came in boxcars. Well, not real boxcars, but big boxes that looked like small boxcars complete with a brakeman waving a lantern that held boxcar loads of chicken, fish or hamburgers. These boxcar take-outs were the complete meals of the era featuring not only enough of the main entre for the entire family but also potatoes, gravy and their signature Texas Toast. I do not remember if the food was good, but I do remember getting excited about the cool boxes and the big, Texas Toast we all covered with the Drumstick thick, chicken gravy before eating. Every once in a while, my mom would bring home a boxcar of chicken or burgers and the whole family sat around the living room eating Drumstick take-out while watching "Jonny Quest", "Batman" and "The Green Hornet".
On the rare occasion when we actually visited the restaurant to sit in the dining room, I always ordered the blue cheese dressing on my salad. Some people talk about the Drumstick's great pies or chicken, but I remember that dressing that was like no one else's and like none I have tasted since. It must have made an impression since I have not eaten there in years, but I still remember its flavor. Maybe it's just me, but if people ever talk to me about the Drumstick, receptors in my brain go wild for that dressing and my tongue starts to tingle. .
I do not know what happened to the Drumstick and my research turned up very little information. Some say they became the "Wishbone" restaurants, but I really cannot say for sure. All I know is that they disappeared and they are gone. At least one location, the one on West Colfax in the JCRS Shopping Center, still even looks like the restaurant it once was despite going through many changes and spending some time as a Bingo parlor.
Was the Drumstick good and did they have good food? I don't know. I seriously do not remember anything that special about the food. I do know they had the best trains in town, they were the only place I remember serving up that Texas Toast, and they had the best blue cheese dressing in town. Still, to this day, no one can top that blue cheese dressing for flavor and fat content. Maybe I just remember the Denver Drumstick because the family ate out so infrequently when I was a kid. Maybe there were better, lesser-known restaurants I never had a chance to visit. After all, the Drumsticks are not around anymore when many other restaurants of the same era are. Nonetheless, I had no idea as I reached into that take-out boxcar of burgers for another slider that there were a few memories tucked in there as well. The Drumstick may or may not have been good, but at least for me, they sure served up some good memories.