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Lanford Lunch Box  - Small Midwest restaurant featured on the situation comedy ROSEANNE/ABC/1988-97.

The Lanford Lunch Box Restaurant - ROSEANNE

The Lanford Lunch Box was opened during the 1992 season when Roseanne Connor (Roseanne Barr) and sister Jackie Harris (Laurie Metcalf) pooled their money (some from their mother) to open a coffee shop that specialized in loose-meat sandwiches.

The whole Conner clan pitched in to help run the eatery except for Roseanne's daughter, Darlene (Sara Gilbert), an avowed vegetarian who objected to the way the family earned its money.

When Darlene did something wrong (like drawing obscene pictures outside The Lunchbox on episode "Lanford Daze"), her mother Roseanne made her work at the shop as a punishment and serve loose-meat sandwiches to the customers.

Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Sandra Bernhard as Nancy Bartlett and Roseanne Barr as Roseanne Connor - ROSEANNE

TRIVIA NOTE: On March 13-14, 1993, Roseanne Barr and then husband, Tom Arnold were the guest chefs at the grand opening of their own real-life eatery called Roseanne & Tom's Big Food Diner located just a few miles from Tom's native Ottumwa near Highway 5 at 101 Elm Street in Eldon, Iowa 52254 (population 1,070).

With a seating capacity of 50-70 customers, the restaurant served the four basic food groups "cholesterol, grease, sugar and starch" from 6:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., seven days a week with menu entrees ranging from $1.50 to $4.50.

Resembling the TV counterpart, the restaurant featured a Cheesy Loose-Meat Sandwich for $1.75 (which one Eldonite said "tasted like burnt hair") as well as "The Elvis," a grilled peanut butter, chocolate and banana sandwich, and an early morning meal known as "The Breakfast Mess," a plateful of scrambled eggs swimming in cheese chunks, fried potatoes and onions.

The eatery's interior was filled with photographs and mementos from Roseanne and Tom's life including an Emmy Award (later taken back) sitting in a glass souvenir case next to the cash register. Tom Arnold's brother Chris oversaw the diner's operation.

The inspiration for the Lanford Lunch Box was a loose meat sandwich restaurant called The Canteen in Ottumwa, Iowa.

The Canteen Restaurant, Ottumwa, Iowa

When Roseanne and Tom divorced in 1994, business at the restaurant turned "molasses-slow." The restaurant closed in 1995 and the property was later donated to the city of Eldon.

Before Roseanne and Tom's invasion of Eldon, Iowa, the farm town's only claim to fame was its two-story house seen in the background of Grant Wood's 1930 painting "American Gothic." (TV Guide 3/13/93 p.18-19 and Entertainment Weekly 12/23/1994 p. 8-9)

A major loose meat sandwich restaurant in the Midwest is the "Maid Rite" was founded in 1926 by Fred Angel. Maid-Rite Corporation’s headquarters are located in Urbandale, Iowa. They have over 70 locations, located in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio.

The loose-sandwich is also known as a "Tavern Sandwich (seasoned or unseasoned ground beef on a bun, mixed with sauteed onions).


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