Miss Hulling’s is easily downtown’s best-remembered cafeteria. Perhaps because it was slightly off the well-trod paths near the department stores, it seemed just a little nicer. Opened in 1928, it withstood the Depression and the food rationing of World War II. In the process, it became an institution.
Regulars came and went within the pink walls—well, most of the time. Sometimes they came and stayed, including attorneys and judges who, we suspect, would haggle over their meals. For a while, the restaurant’s owner also ran the cafeteria at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, feeding the night shift.
The food was classic American cafeteria food (e.g., carrot-and-marshmallow salad), very much of its era. But as times changed, so did the menu: Dishes such as butternut squash soup and fish with Creole sauce beganto appear.
But mainly it was the desserts that people remember with glee. Florence Hulling Apted, a sharp businesswoman, realized that take-home food could be big business. Near the door were cases of packaged items, led by the inimitable split chocolate and split lemon cakes, whole or by the slice.
Miss Hulling’s closed in 1993, but the restaurant is survived by those split cakes, now sold at Straub’s.