Roscoe-Land: Roscoe White’s Corral & Easy Way

by Paula Bosse

roscoe-whites-corral_1951

by Paula Bosse

My family had two favorite neighborhood restaurants: Kirby’s Charcoal Steakhouse on Lower Greenville for birthdays and special occasions, and Roscoe White’s Corral on Mockingbird for every other occasion. Conveniently, both were only a short walk from our house. When I came across this ad, I was surprised to see that the Corral had started out as a drive-in, with car-hops. My memories of the place are from the 1970s after it had been rebuilt. in the same block, in a new-ish shopping strip (about where Premiere Video is now), facing the old Dr Pepper plant. It had a diner-like, fairly utilitarian decor, with a slightly fancier banquet room at the back. There was an attached (very dark) bar with a separate entrance. I remember the gleaming cigarette machine. Roscoe must have loved the place, because he was there all the time.

My mother and I always had the chicken-fried steak and a salad with blue cheese dressing. My father and brother tended to go for the still-bubbling cheese enchiladas on a hot metal dish, swimming in a healthy amount of grease (my father’s favorite part). I swear we always had the same waitress — I can’t remember her name, but it was one of those perfect names for a waitress. “Maxine” maybe? (I think my parents had both been customers since their days at SMU in the ’50s, and for all I know, she had been there back then and had been serving them for over twenty years.)

When the Corral closed in the late-’70s or early-’80s, my family was distraught. Loyal patrons that we were, we began making the trek through the Park Cities to Roscoe’s other restaurant, The Easy Way, over on Lovers Lane, by the toll road — the atmosphere was different (it was darker, for one thing), but the food was EXACTLY THE SAME! And, as I recall, even our regular waitress was there — she had also made the move across town. It was almost as if nothing had changed. …Almost.

I loved the Corral My family had so many nice times there. And I miss it. I especially miss that wonderful chicken-fried steak, the yardstick by which I continue to judge all others.

Roscoe White died in 1995 and was remembered in D Magazine:

He moved around, but Roscoe White always had a place for Dallas to eat. He opened his first restaurant in 1939, the Kings Way Grill on Knox and Travis streets. It had an upstairs casino, and the beer was stored in the icehouse next door. Later he opened the Corral on Mockingbird Lane, a drive-in that became a haven for SMU law students. White also owned the Easy Way Grill on Lovers Lane and then Roscoe’s Easy Way on Lemmon Avenue. He died of a stroke at 88.

Thanks for all the great meals, Roscoe!

roscoe-white_d-mag_oct-1985Roscoe White at the Easy Way (D Magazine, Oct. 1985)

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roscoe-whites-corral_matchbook_flickr

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An early ad from 1947. Fried chicken gizzards, only 55 cents — “It’s a Pleasure”!

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rosecoe-whites_corral_carhop_ad_dmn_091448

roscoe-whites-corral_lady-cashier_dmn_091948

A couple of help-wanted ads for waitresses and a “lady cashier” (Dallas Morning News, 1948). I can only hope that Roscoe’s car-hops were referred to as “White Girls.”

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roscoe-whites-corral_reopening_dmn_100850

There had been a fire in the summer of 1950 that caused $4,500 worth of damage, the reason, I’m assuming, for the redecoration and re-opening. I’m not sure when the Corral moved into the location I was familiar with, but by mid-1969, ads were appearing with the new address of 5422 Mockingbird.

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roscoe-whites-easy-way_matchbook_flickr

A matchbook from the Easy Way Grill, sadly, with the wrong address on it! The Easy Way was at 5806 Lovers Lane, part of the Miracle Mile, where Dr. Delphinium is now.

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roscoe-whites-easyway_1951

A 1951 ad for the Kings Way Grill and Easy Way Grill.

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The top ad touting “SMU’s Favorite Drive-In” is from a 1951 SMU-Rice football game souvenir program.

A fond farewell to the Easy Way — “It’s Hard To Say Goodbye to The Easy Way Cafe” — from D Magazine is here. (Above photo of Roscoe accompanied the print article.)

Red matchbook covers from Flickr.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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