At one time back in the 70s and 80s there were Baby Doe's Matchless Mine restaurants in Columbus, Kansas City, Birmingham, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Los Angeles. All were situated to allow diners a "view" of some sort: a limestone quarry lake in suburban Columbus, a panorama of downtown in Birmingham, Dallas and Denver, etc.. All were built according to a similar architectural model and designed by Ted J. Cushman for Specialty Restaurants of Long Beach, California.
The basic layout included an entrance made to look like a mineshaft, flanked by various mining-related artifacts such as tipple cars on narrow gauge rails and rusting hoist machinery. Inside, "down the mineshaft" as it were, one of two paths led down to the bar, while the other ascended to a dining room. Both rooms were heavily clad in the dark, rough-hewn timbering resonant of the interior of a mine, while, at the same time being furnished in high Victorian chintz and carpeting. And, as if to provide further cognitive disonance, both public spaces enjoyed un-underworld-like floor-to-ceiling glass windows facing "the view."
While the "authenticity" of such themed restaurants often ends there: not so, the Baby Doe's restaurants. Each went an astonishing step further by hanging its interior walls with facsimiles of actual Tabor memorabilia: stock certificates from Tabor's companies, letters, family photos and portraits. Here's a picture of Augusta. There's a picture of Baby and Horace's Denver home. Over there is a copy of the incorporation papers for one of Horace's will-o-the-wisp ventures.
Interestingly, these restaurants were of their time, i.e. the early 1970s. It was an era immediately preceded by Tiki-type lounges, Howard Johnson's Orange-and-Blue "36 varieties," space-ship and satellite-themed drive-ins, and the early rumblings of fast-food chains. But, by the 70s, Denver and the other Baby Doe's locales were forging a sun-belt-style America, in which a high-end steakhouse could be a symbol of the new free-market "elegance," a kind of informal formality grounded in cowboy chic and "big oil" boomerism.
Virtually none of the Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Restaurants survive; their buildings and grounds being sold, recast, renamed and/or otherwise transformed. As of this writing, only the Dallas Baby Doe's remains as a functioning restaurant (albeit temporarily closed for renovation) operating under its original name.Yet, while they lasted, they were yet another manifestation of the rich and continuously fertile Baby Doe story.
Atlanta: Powers Ferry Road