Memories on Broadway


“Over 65 years ago, Bob Luby had a dream: To develop a chain of cafeterias that would provide good food, good service and reasonable prices.” This dream was as a result of his upbringing. Since the time Bob was born, his father, Harry Luby, had owned and operated the New England Dairy Lunch Cafeteria in Springfield, Missouri. Eventually, Harry’s small cafeteria business grew to include restaurants in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. As a result from growing up in the business and developing a passion for it, Bob was determined to build upon his father’s principles and work ethic with his own new ideas. In 1947, Bob Luby with his partner, Charles R. Johnston, opened the first Luby’s Cafeteria in the basement of a building in downtown San Antonio. At the time, skeptics thought it to be an extremely risky endeavor due to downtown San Antonio often being deserted at night, and many people doubted that servicemen home from the war would stand in line for anything again. The cynics were wrong – the 180 seat cafeteria was consistently packed for both lunch and dinner. And so the tradition of, and adoration for, Luby’s Cafeteria by local San Antonians began. Within the same year of the first cafeteria’s opening, G.W. Mitchell Construction was commissioned to build the second location of Luby’s Cafeteria on Broadway in the heart of Alamo Heights. To the tune of a little over $71,000, Mitchell built a two-story mixed use building with the cafeteria on the first floor and office space above on the second floor. Luby’s second location opened for business in April of 1948 and quickly became a neighborhood and city-wide favorite. The second floor office space housed the company’s headquarters from 1948 to 1981, at which time the company outgrew the space. In April of 2000, after 52 years of business in this location, Luby’s on Broadway served their last Lou Ann platters to customers but the building still remained a local landmark. Although this Luby’s location has been closed now for 14 years, this iconic structure on Broadway holds many fond memories to devoted “Lubians” who dined there for generations. To this day, this unique building stands in fully functional use and currently is home to a popular steakhouse and sushi restaurant, Osaka. Through Luby’s strong imprint on the hearts and stomachs of its loyal patrons and G.W. Mitchell’s lasting footprint on the buildings in San Antonio, they both hold true to the same motto of being a “family tradition, serving the community”.