Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sweden House Smorgasbord

Here's a postcard I found. It's of the Sweden House Smorgasbord, which was at 2720 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. It's not there anymore, but that address puts it near Columbus and Dale Mabry, generally where the Dodge dealer is now.

The back of the postcard says:

Every Day - Hot Dishes - Cool Sparkling Salads
Tampa's Finest Smorgasbord Service
Fine Food and Gracious Dining
Without Extravagance

Other Florida locations were in Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, with others in Illinois.

I don't know anything else about this restaurant (I'm guessing it dates to the 1960s or 1970s?), but perhaps some of you do!


  1. I used to eat there often. It was in the 1970's. I first ate lunch there in 1972 with the warehouse crew from Tampa Wholesale Liquor, shortly after moving to Tampa and going to work there. My recall is that it was pretty good and, of course, lots of food.

    I remember it closing but I'm not sure when that was.

  2. That place looks like the Holiday House restaurants that used to be in the Orlando area. There was one on Lee Road, one near Sanford (I think) and also one in Mount Dora. At the buffet line, you'd tell the server what kind of meat you wanted and he'd slice it (or dish it up) for you. (Sometimes those guys were awfully chintzy!)

    I wonder if the restaurants were related?

    Miss T

  3. i used to go to the ft lauderdale location with my grandmother,after church. i was little, so that was around '77-79...thanks for posting the brought back memories...

  4. Anonymous10:01 PM

    I used to go to the Sweden House in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was a great family treat - probably in the late 60s, early 70s. Looked just like this one.

  5. Anonymous11:29 PM

    We moved to west of Ft. Lauderdale at the end of 1972. There was a Sweden House on State Road 7 (U.S. 441), south of Broward Blvd. We think it went out of business early in the 80's. They had 2 mottos:

    Taksa Myket (don't remember the translation of the Swedish) and

    "Take all You Want, But Eat All You Take".

  6. Anonymous11:33 PM

    Just found out what Tak sa Mycket means in Swedish by Googling it.

    It means "Thanks so much"

  7. I was just reminiscing about eating at the Sweden House Smagasbord in Orlando in the 70's. I can't remember exactly where it was, but it was a favorite family after-church destination.

  8. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Tammy from Lakeland, fl

    I remember the one in Orlando on Lee Rd across from the orange juice stand (which is still there), the spot where the Sweden House sat is now a medical arts building. It was always a favorite of my late father's EVERY time we traveled to Disney.
    Thanks for the memories.

  9. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Thanks for your memories in posting this. It reminds me of my late dad, whom my mom and I went to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea with to vacation, from Boston, for 2 weeks when I was a little kid, every November before Thanksgiving, at the old Outrigger Hotel in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. A whole crew of us from there used to go to the Sweden House. Fond memories. One older woman, Virginia, reached over to give me her plastic cocktail sword and said, "Gary, whenever you're down as you get older, look at this and think about tonight, and all the happy memories will come back." That was 1974, and I still have that little bugger of a sword. I miss those happy days and warm evenings. Thanks again.

  10. Anonymous6:30 PM

    The one in orlando on lee road closed about 1980, and it became the second Chuck E Cheese, the building is still there, its been several clubs since it is quite spacious, looks exactly like the one in the picture.

  11. Anonymous5:20 PM

    There were 17 Sweden House restaurants in total, 2 in Illinois (where they originated) and 15 in Florida. This was my grandfather's restaurant who has since passed away. If any of you have old postcards or any pictures I would like you to contact me. Thanks :)

    1. I used to go eat there with my school class for a class retreat because the restaurant belonged to my class mate's father (or maybe grandfather). Depending on how old you are, I may know your mother or father or you or your sibling. I am 47...and I think we went there when I was attending The Benjamin School...

  12. Anonymous5:21 PM

    There were 15 restaurants in total, 2 in Illinois where they originated and 15 in Florida. They have all since closed. This was my grandfathers restaurant and if anyone has any pictures or postcards please contact me. Thanks

  13. Anonymous6:39 AM

    There was a Sweden House on US1 and 144th st in South Miami. I used to eat there in the early
    70's and I remember my High School ( Belen Jesuit )athletic awards banquets being held there in 1973 & 1974.

  14. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I do recall a Sweden House in Clearwater, FL located on Gulf-to-Bay Blvd between Belcher Rd and US 19 in the 1970's. I was a kid then but though it was a neat idea before buffets were popular. It seem a bit nicer than most of the chains buffets of today. I think you even order a cocktail. It probably closed in the late 70's or very early 80's.

  15. I just found a post card of Sweden House Smorgasbord in Naperville, IL and looked up the name and was led here. The picture on the post card looks like the one here.

  16. Anonymous9:16 PM

    there was one in daytona beach that i used to go to as a kid. 70s to early 80s. my brothers and i loved the soft serve ice cream!

    someone should revive the franchise. it introduced me to all u can eating, something which i continue to enjoy to this day.

    longwood, fl

  17. Anonymous7:52 PM

    We use to go to the one in Ft.Lauderdale I believe it was on Federal Hwy., during lunch a bunch of us from work would pile into a car an go. Usually we would eat to much and were not in the mood to go back to work. Those were the good old days

  18. Anonymous11:52 PM

    Ja sure you betcha. I used to eat at the one in Rockford, IL growing up, Sundays after church. (60's-70's) There was one Naperville when I moved there after college and it closed 2 weeks after I moved in. Big disappointment. It's was not true smorgasbord, but good. Stockholm Inn in Rockford has great swedish cooking. Unfortunately, I live in Florida now and it's not easy finding swedish food. In any case, they buildings looked exactly the same as the postcards show.

  19. Anonymous4:26 PM

    We may have a way to put a date on the closure of Sweden House. On our Florida vacations, we often took our children to the one in Clearwater. Our youngest was born in 1970. At the age of 5, still dining for free, he became totally independent and refused my assistance with the magnificent salad bowl. "I can do it myself, Dad." CRASH! The beautiful salad bowl and contents were on the floor. The young attendant came to clean up the mess, and he was not very happy (though he was very cordial.) The next year, the Sweden House chain was closed. We always said that they closed because Ian had spilled the big salad bowl. The year of the spill was 1975, and they were closed by 1976.

  20. Anonymous10:20 AM

    WE are remodeling our kitchen and going through our cupboards. I just ran across a glass I got at the Sweden House from Ft Lauderdale. I was just a teenager and my brother lived in Florida. We went down from Ohio to visit. I can remember drinking a red virgin cocktail from it and I thought I was special cause they let me keep the glass. Fun times and good memories. I think that was the first time I ate at a smorgasbord and it was huge!!!

  21. I worked at the Sweden House in South Miami for 2 years! My Grandmother worked there for 8 years. this was back in the seventies. It was my first job. They closed in the early eighties. It was a very popular restaurant in the early seventies down there but competition eventually caught up with it.

  22. Anonymous10:52 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. Anonymous9:06 AM

    I used to go to the Sweden House in North Palm Beach, Fl. on U.S. 1 in the seventies. Later it was an Olive Garden and a mexican restaurant. It's been a bank for the last several years. Before the bank took the building over, I had to work on the phone lines for the alarm system and noticed that the billing information on the ticket listed Sweden House of Clearwater Florida. I remember thinking that was strange that the corporation was still around but the restaurant had been gone 20+ years.

  24. Anonymous3:21 PM

    I remember the Sweden House on Kirkman Rd in Orlando, Friday nights they had Alaskan King Crab Claws. This was in 1973-74 when I lived in Orlando. I lived in Casa Del Rey apartments on Oakridge Road.

  25. Anonymous12:58 AM

    Wow....what memories! During our yearly visits to Miami Beach back in the 1960s/1970s, we would drive up to Fort Lauderdale to the Sweden House on Federal Highway. That was the only buffet restaurant we ever knew back then...and boy was it great food! And yes, you could find "swedish meatballs". I also remember being very fond of their mashed potatoes and brown gravy...yummm! And all you can drink from the soda fountain machine (free refills was a bizarre concept back in those years). Sadly, I believe this Sweden House closed its doors around 1978 or 79.

  26. Anonymous2:27 AM

    Fascinating. That smörgåsbord looks real good. It's "Tack så mycket" btw. I once ate at a Sweeden House in the Chicago area (or was it possibly Swiden House?) but I had no idea they had copied the name. Thanks for posting this and all the best from Sweden.


  27. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I went to School at Westminster Academy across from the Sweeden House Rest. in Ft. Lauderdale. We ate there often and always loved it!! I think the Albertson Family owned it....Karen Albertson was in my class!! We graduated in 1980!

  28. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Oh my gosh you guys are taking me back. My family LOVED the Sweden House. I grew up Michigan and we had like 4 or 5 at one time in the 80's thru 1996. Our latest closed in '98 . Michigan people love their buffets and Sweden House was our weekly Saturday treat! Loved the fried apple fritters and baked chicken, AWESOME! Good memories.

  29. Anonymous4:40 PM

    I too grew up in Michigan and we had a Sveden (Sweden) House Smorgasbord in Flint, MI. I have many fond memories of being there with my mom, dad and other family when I was young. I read somewhere that they started in Duluth, MN and were then franchised around the country. I don't know when the one in Flint closed, but I know the food had changed even before the restaurant closed. The salad bar was wonderful! My favorite was the pink glorified rice salad and the swedish meatballs!

  30. Anonymous2:53 PM

    OHMYGOSH, MEMORIES, ME TOO! In Michigan, in the Detroit area, for a special treat the family would go to Sweden House. My Grandma was still alive, so before 1967. My brother in high school was well over 6' with a huge appetite - we always said they lost money on him - it was a standing family joke.

    When I was in my early 20's I worked for a meat commisary (distributor). Of course, the driver delivery men would see all the kitchens. Disconcertingly, they agreed that the one restaurant they would NEVER eat in was a Sweden House because their kitchen was so dirty - too dirty for even a truck driver. And they claimed the restaurant was owned by a church as a fund raiser! That's what they said anyway ...

    The reason I came to this website is that my sister mentioned recently that she always thought that their bread pudding was the best. I was going to see if I could get a recipe. Well, if they're all gone, apparently not ...
    but it was fun remembering ...

  31. We used to eat at The Sweden House back in '72 when we lived at Homestead Air Force Base. I remember all you can eat crab and shrimp. Great memories there!

  32. Anonymous8:17 AM

    I remember going there about once a month coming over from WinterHaven. Afterwards, we'd go over to Busch Gardens which just opened (it was free back then) and enjoy the bird show and drink (free) beer.

  33. Anonymous11:08 PM

    There was a Sweden House buffet in Elyria, Ohio. I ate there many, many times and was never disappointed. Great food, kind of classy, and an excellent value! It was a pretty big place and looked EXACTLY like the postcard pictures inside and out. It was the first buffet I had ever heard of or eaten at. This was around 1972. It closed in the mid 70s. Boy, I sure wish I could go to a place like that today....Those postcard pictures really brought back some memories!!!

  34. Anonymous8:35 PM

    There was one in Indianapolis, IN also on West 38th Street in the 70's and early 80's sadly closed as well.

  35. Anonymous9:49 AM

    I also remember the Sweden House on Kirkman Rd in Orlando and the all you can eat Alaskan King Crab Claws on Fridays. This was in 1973-74 when I lived in Orlando. I worked at Sea World when it opened and I lived in Stoneridge apartments on Oakridge Road.

  36. Anonymous11:04 AM

    I remember going to the one in Ft. lauderdale for Thanskgiving it was the best.. Wow i'm getting old. That was the place to go . Good old fashion american meal ..

  37. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Can't believe I bumped into this post. I was just describing SH to my kids, and did a little search, and boom. Here we are.

    There was one in St. Clair Shores, MI on Harper Ave. Early to mid-80's. I remember the deep fried smelt. I don't even like fish, but I used to like that one. Also, the drink fountain with red Tropical Punch.

    Life was simpler then...

  38. Anonymous3:38 PM

    My wife and I travel to Disney in 1975. We stayed at the Gateway Inn on Kirkland Road and ate a couple of time at the Swedish House Smorgasbord which was also on Kirkland.

  39. Anonymous10:36 PM

    Never ate there, but remember hearing the radio commercials in South Florida in the 1970s as a child:
    "All you care to eat from our Smorgasbord
    Is here at a price you can easily afford
    So treat your children and please your spouse
    Good taste make the difference at Sweden House eat!"

  40. Anonymous11:42 PM

    There was also one in Lansing, MI on Waverly just south of Michigan Ave. Was in the 70s. Don't remember when it closed.

  41. Anonymous6:31 PM

    Im not trying to be a kill joy but does anyone remember the KAPOK tree restraunt thats no longer and the land I think belongs to the town of Davie Florida

  42. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Southfield Michigan too ~

  43. Anonymous2:26 AM

    Sweden House was a franchise that my father had bought into in 1971. He opened on Biscayne Blvd in North Miami Fl. The restaurant seated 450 people and during season from November to April and holidays there was a line out the door all night. My entire family worked there at one time or another. The most awkward time was when I was 16 one with a line to get in and a line to get food my duty was to refill the food on the buffet and and keep it clean. As I was scrambling to keep up I tripped carrying a giant bowl of Cole slaw and a giant bowl of three bean salad. The bean salad went all over the stacked plates and bowls and the Cole slaw landed on this womens head and the wall behind her. And all she keep saying is "get away from me" lol. I did every job in the restaurant at one time or another. I had some good friends recently find a postcard from the N Miami location on E Bay and purchase it for me. Each location had their own cards with one small interior and exterior shot as well as the picture above of the buffet with a super imposed waitress on it ( if you notice
    her feet don't touch the ground ). I grew up with the staff that remained the same for the most part who brought their kids and relatives to work there as well. The restaurant closed in summer of 1983 and I miss the food and good friends.

  44. The two original Sweden Houses were in Naperville and Elgin, Il. My Father opened the first Florida location in Ft Lauderdale, the same day President Kennedy was killed. He was a part owener with Jack Iding and "Big John" Albertson. The Sweden House's on the postcard were only in Florida. Many people confuse other Sweden Houses.

    The restaurant had a full backery. The seating was just under 400, with four dining rooms. Sundays and Holidays ran dinner all day from 11 to 9pm. On those days, (all six of my brothers and sisters lived in there!) a one dollar pool was run for the total number of customers. The record? Mothers Day, 1968. 4316! Unheard of these days. I know, I was there! And guess who won that pool?

    Jim McGone

  45. Anonymous8:39 AM

    My husband and I had our wedding recetion at Sweden House in Sterling Heights, MI that was in 1995.
    It closed shortly after that

  46. Anonymous2:34 PM

    I have been desperately searching for the Gateway Inn Motel which is where I stayed with my family in 1976 when I was 12 years old. I have 4 photographs and can clearly see the Sweden House sign in the background and using this my internet search has thankfully bought me to this website.
    We all have such fond memories of this restaurant - it was the first smorgasbord we had ever been to or heard of AND it was the first place that I had eaten cottage cheese (loved it ever since).
    I am so pleased to now be able to locate the Gateway Inn and of course the Sweden House. Does anyone else remember the 'smile you are alive and beautifal sign?
    Laura (UK)

  47. Anonymous3:33 PM

    There were also Sveden House Smorgasbords in Ohio. I used to travel from Cleveland to Saybrook, (near Ashtabula) to visit the one in Saybrook Plaza back in the 70's. I LOVED the food there. Later on they opened one around Bedford Heights. I didnt think the food was as good but it was a lot closer. I think they had one on Clevelands west side but I am not positive. Maybe I am confusing it with something else. As i recall, there was a fire and it never reopened. These closed so long ago, I hav lost track of when it was, but the fond memories never really faded.
    Several years ago, I had to make a trip to Michigan. There is a Sveden House in Livonia MI and I literally INSISTED that we visit there on the trip. The actual reason for my trip was a major letdown but the Sveden House was just as great as I remembered it. I was indeed surprized. it seems that the quality of so many buffets has gone downhill. The Sveden House quality was still excellent.
    The Livonia location appears to still be operating. You can find it on Google. There are are some other locations mentioned in Michigan as well. I would say to call if you plan to visit any of them and make sure they are still in business. I SO MUCH WISH they would return to Ohio, within driving distance of Cleveland. I would make it a point to visit as often as possible. The buffets we have now dont really compare.

  48. Anonymous7:35 PM

    I do remember the Sweden House in Elyria, Ohio. We used to go there for Mothers Day when I was a kid in the 70's. It was such a memorable time. I also believe there was one in Parma, Ohio and I think it burned down in the 70's.

  49. The Michigan Sveden Houses are not connected in any way with the original Illinois and later Florida ones run by Jack Iding and John Albertson. I am married to one of the Iding sons who managed the Clearwater store, and Bradenton.

  50. Anonymous4:19 PM

    BREAD PUDDING 12 pieces of bread toastsd. buttered and sprinkled with cinn and sugar. 6 eggs slightly beaten, 2 C milk,1C sugar. 1C dark brown sugar, 1C raisins 1 t. vinilla. mix together all ingredinets pour over cut up toasted bread, Bake at 350' for 60 min.

  51. Anonymous6:28 PM

    I worked at the Tampa location from 1972-1974. It was "all you dare to eat" and I remember the wrestler, Haystacks Calhoun would come in on king crab claw night and he'd leave a mountain of shells. We had a blast working there and I bussed tables, carved the beef and was the first male host. (that gave me plenty of opportunity to flirt with Sissy, Barbara and Sharon) We'd raid the other dining rooms to get silverware when we ran out and we'd have contests to see who could pile the most into a bus pan. Just before I left they started doing shoes there. I remember Bob Crane and Harry James performed there.

  52. There use to be a Sweden House a couple miles from my house in Toledo, OH.

  53. I would go here with my family in South Miami, in the 70's. I remember I would love to eat the Swedish meatballs, when I used to eat red meat. They would play the commercial in TV all the time and the jingle is still stuck in my head, it went like this: " So treat your family and please your spouse, the taste makes a difference at Sweden House! All you care to eat!"

  54. Anonymous8:42 AM

    When I was a kid, my mom and dad and sister and I would dine at the Sweden House Smorgasbord in Clearwater and it was always a treat. What most buffets' in this area need to learn is that what made the Sweden House so good was the fact that, they served the food to your plate and, didn't let the customers handle the food. This is what's wrong with all of the buffets' in the tampa bay area. Just witness what happened with the Southern buffet in Pinellas Park. Finger nail in the ice cream. INDEED!!!

  55. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I remember the one in Ft Lauderdale we would go there after church in Hollywood ( Sheridan Hills) but I also remember going to the Copper Penny restaurant too,not related but both were cool places to eat when you where a little kid in the early 70s


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