Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
And with that, Maureen Wallenfang’s piece in The Post-Crescent this week on the return of Appleton’s first and finest pizzeria was the best news to reach the paper in some time. Frank’s Pizza Palace will soon return, and while the name might change, it was great to hear the familiar recipes will not.
It got us thinking.
Frank’s is one of those establishments that has become part of the community identity. When you think of an Appleton pizza, the palace comes to mind.
For Friday’s list we decided to explore other establishments in the Fox Valley that are more than businesses — they’re landmarks and are intertwined with their communities in ways others can’t claim.
We came up with 10. We’re certain there are more. Are we full of it? Let us know on Facebook. And for that matter, add your suggestions on the landmark establishments we’ve missed.
Cleo’s: For all the places one can grab a drink in Appleton, this one is one of a kind. It’s wall-to-wall Christmas decor sets it apart. It’s praises have been sung by famed comedian Lewis Black. When you say Appleton and bar, Cleo’s will be the first name that comes to most minds.
Tom’s Drive In: It’s been a favorite in the Fox Valley since 1960. It’s food that comes fast, but it doesn’t have that generic “fast food” feel. There’s soft serve, there are cheese curds and you can grab some popcorn to snack on later. If I were ever to move away, a double pizza burger combo would be a priority on every return visit.
JDs Drive In: The John Street drive in is one of a kind and a long-time favorite for our favorite comfort foods. If it has a Tom’s kind feeling, it’s because they derived from the same family. Again, its food that arrives quickly, but it doesn’t feel like the same place you’d find anywhere. It feels like home.
Mihm’s: It’s one of the most sinfully delicious places anywhere, though everyone knows Mihm’s is in Menasha. The steak sandwiches come with as much butter as beef and aren’t complete without a shake at the side.
Manderfield’s: They’ve been tempting the Fox Valley with their flavors and aromas since 1934. From breads to sweets, Manderfield’s has never been an easy place to pass without stopping.
Simple Simon Bakery: It’s a newer kid on the block having opened shop in 1967. Whether it’s bread, cakes, pies, cookies or doughnuts, Simple Simon is an Appleton favorite.
Butch’s Pizza: What Frank’s is to Appleton, Butch’s is to Kimberly. Founded in 1968, it’s a landmark with a strong reputation for the classic thin, crispy crust with no skimping on the toppings.
Dick’s Drive-In: It isn’t summer in Kaukauna without a cone or a shake from Dick’s Drive-In. Founded in 1955, it’s an old school treat with glowing neon and great burgers.
Bradke’s: When you see a huge rooftop sign that simply says, “EAT,” you best do as you’re told. It’s a no frills sort of place, but whether stopping in for breakfast or lunch, you know why it’s been around for decades in Neenah once the food reaches the table.
George’s Steak House: It’s been a staple in the Fox Valley since the 1930s, whether for a delicious dinner or a few cocktails over music from its 19th century, nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano.