Strawbridge and Clothier department store was an initial tenant in the Echelon Mall (Voorhees Town Center) when it opened in Voorhees NJ in 1970. As was a common practice at the time for department stores, Strawbridge opened with a full casual restaurant.
As the years progresses and new stores took over the space, at some point the restaurant closed, the kitchen equipment was removed.. and the restaurant dining area was closed up.
And the restaurant was forgotten.
I recently found out that the core dining area of the restaurant and the kitchen space has been sitting in the Voorhees building mostly untouched, for what I’ve determined to be almost 30 years.
The images were taken by an area photographer and they made their way onto a Facebook group which was previously created to share the history and memories of the Echelon Mall.
I saw the photos online and tracked down the photographer, who provided me with the originals and gave me permission to share with readers at 42Freeway.com. I did resize and adjust some of the colors.
The images were taken within the last year and show the dining area and booths within the restaurant space, the now empty kitchen area where all of the equipment had been previously removed, and they even found some of the menus from the era, showing very affordable prices.
From the “Heartier Appetite” section of the menu, the meals were priced under $2! How about a quarter pound Executive Burger with cheese, bacon and fries… for $1.65!
Of course menu is likely about 3 decades old.. or maybe older!
The most impactful part of the photos are from the dining room area which is on on of the upper levels with large windows providing views out to Voorhees Town Center Boulevard where housing, restaurants and retail were developed in a main street style setting..
It appears most of the seating was “built-in” and likely why it is still in the building. It included different styles of booth seating, including large curved cushioned seating.
Dining staff stations can be seen also, featuring tabletop areas with cutouts.. for sinks or ice buckets.
One section looks like it could’ve been a counter area, but I don’t think I ever ate in this restaurant so I can’t confirm from memory.
The department store space operated as Strawbridge and Clothier from 1970 to 2006. In 2006 it became Macy’s until they closed in 2017.
The building has multiple floors. It appears there are two main retail store floors, a third floor where the restaurant is… and then looking at Google Maps there may be a smaller fourth floor, likely for facilities use.
It appears though as time progressed the retail square footage of the stores was reduced down, and that third floor restaurant space was just closed off and forgotten.
Folks in the Facebook group were trying to determine how long the restaurant had sat there unused.
I tracked down a July 15, 1996 article from when May Co purchased purchased Strawbridge and Clothier, which was going to be operated as part of their Hecht’s division.
In the FAQ section of the 1996 article they state:
Q: Hecht’s doesn’t typically operate restaurants. Will it continue any restaurants in any of the stores?
Restaurants will be open in the downtown and Springfield Strawbridge’s stores… The food hall in the Center City Strawbridge’s store will also operate…Philadelphia Inquirer July 15, 1996 article from when Hecht’s purchased Strawbridge’s and seemingly closed most restaurants.
So it does seem to fit that around 1996 the Strawbridge restaurant at Echelon Mall closed.
While the building has not been used for the last six years, new life is coming as Modax furniture Corp is set to take over the space.
In my most recent visit a few weeks ago to write about the new “Jay’s Crazed Confection” stand, I noticed that the former Strawbridge/Macy’s store had furniture in place on the first and second floors… but Modax had not opened yet
I am tracking down the owners of Modax and hope to be reporting on them soon. I do not believe the are open as of yet.
Today the Voorhees Town Center has been significantly changed from 20 years ago, when it was still called the Echelon Mall
The mall itself was basically reduced in size by one half, when the JC Penney’s wing was demolished in 2007 to make room for a new ancillary “main street” style multi-use development featuring several restaurants.
At that time the mall featured two major retailers, Macy’s (Strawbridge unit) and Boscov’s. The mall was still thriving in the early 2000s with stores throughout the center, and food court mostly filled with vendors.
Today Boscov’s is the lone remaining department store. The only other “national” level retailer is Bath and Body Works, but as I reported this month.. another Bath and Body Works location is coming a different Voorhees shopping center, which leaves some doubts if they remain in the Voorhees Town Center.
Links and Location
Voorhees Town Center – Echelon Mall
2120 Voorhees Town Center
Voorhees, NJ 08043