Buffalo in the ‘60s: Ordering off the Your Host menu

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Had you walked into one of the 31 Your Host restaurants that filled the Niagara Frontier with a quick inexpensive meal and a pretty good cup of coffee, this is the menu you would have been handed as you slid into a booth or onto a stool at the counter.

A menu from Your Host. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Alfred Durrenberger and Ross Wesson started the Your Host empire with a hot dog stand on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore in 1944, and grew it over the next two decades into the large restaurant chain generations of Western New Yorkers remember.

A menu from Your Host. (Buffalo Stories archives)

In 1965, Your Host was slinging 27,000 of the burgers which started at 35 cents on the menu above. Around a decade later, when the menu below was in use, there were a growing number of places to get a burger cheaper and faster.

Photos of the (Buffalo Stories archives)

The ’70s and ’80s weren’t kind as fast food and national restaurant chains began to hone in on Your Host’s customers, and the local institution limped into the ’90s.

A menu from Your Host. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The last 11 Your Host restaurants closed up for good in 1993.

What it looked like Wednesday: Your Host, inside and out

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

At its height in the mid-’60s, there were 31 Your Host restaurants across Western New York. These were generally cleaner, newer and brighter than the older Buffalo chain restaurants like Deco they were slowly replacing.

Buffalo News archives

Your Host started with a hot dog stand on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore in 1944 by Alfred J. Durrenberger Jr. and Ross T. Wesson. Durrenberger built the company into the large restaurant chain generations of Western New Yorkers remember. A sign of the restaurants popularity and success: When Durrenberger died in 1968, he left an estate valued at $4.5 million.

But after 49 years in business, just as Your Host had replaced Deco, Your Host was being replaced by more convenience-based coffee shops and fast-food restaurants.  The last 11 stores closed and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1993.

As Your Host liquidated, several locations were sold intact and continue to operate as restaurants similar in manner and menu to Your Host, including one on Delaware Avenue near Sheridan Drive, where the biggest change was taking the “Y” off the sign. The place operated as “Our Host” for years.

Buffalo News archives

The others were opened up to the auction block. A few weeks after its griddle was turned off for the last time, Cash Cunningham visited this Your Host location at Main and Tupper, to auction off kitchen equipment, classic diner booth seating, and even the cash register.

 

Buffalo News archives

 

Your Host serves Buffalo 27,000 burgers every day, 1965.

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Fifty years ago this week, if you were looking for a quick bite to eat in Buffalo, chances are that one of the 31 Your Host restaurants crossed your mind as a possibility.

At a time when eating out might have been more of a gamble, Your Host promised air conditioning, 100 percent beef and real cream for your coffee.

These ads all appeared in The Buffalo Evening News during the week of September 6, 1965.