The Old Days


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The history of Tampa's Goody Goody drive-in restaurant starts nearly a decade before Ralph Stephens established the first one in Tampa in 1925.

Little did Ralph and Amanda Stephens know that when they opened the first Goody Goody sandwich shop in Tampa in 1925, they were establishing an iconic Tampa restaurant that would last 80 years, hibernate for 11 years yet remain in the hearts and memories of Tampans near and far, then reawaken in Tampa's Hyde Park Village in grand style in 2016, thanks to Richard Gonzmart and the Columbia Restaurant Group!

Goody Goody No. 1, Hannibal, Missouri
Photo from RetroMetro Oklahoma City

SEE PREVIOUS PAGE, GOODY GOODY ROOTS, for the events that led up to Ralph Stephens' first Goody Goody here in Hannibal, Mo.
Find out where he got the idea to name it "Goody Goody."



Stephens moves to Florida

“We closed, and being sort of soldiers in fortune, we took off for Florida,” Stephens explained in a 1968 interview. “The land boom was on then and we went to Tampa and opened one restaurant, then another. They had told us there were no rooms in Tampa so we bought a tent and slept under that until we almost flooded out.”


Newspaper ads marked with * are courtesy of Tampa Tribune archives.

Although most longtime Tampa residents associate the Goody Goody with its downtown Florida Avenue location, the restaurant's Tampa start was actually on Grand Central Ave., what is now Kennedy Blvd.

Ralph A. Stephens began the drive-in as "Goody Goody Barbecue" when he was 32 or 33 years old, along with 35-year-old partner Wm. L. Reid, in late 1925.  City directories show it was originally at 1603 Grand Central Avenue, between S. Dakota and Rome Ave., but closer to S. Dakota on the north side of the street.  It operated there for a few years, then moved to the corner at 1629 Grand Central.



The map at right shows this block in 1915 when dwellings occupied the area.  However, it is useful to show the relative locations of 1629 and 1603 Grand Central Ave.




Various classified ads for help placed by Stephens

*The first ads Stephens placed in the Tribune were help wanted ads.
Mar. 21, 1926 Want Ad for sandwich maker assistant.


April 25, 1926
*                                                                                             June 16, 1926*

Jun 25, 1926

Stephens seeks a new or second location
This Dec. 17, 1926 want ad by Stephens shows that he was looking for a corner location early on, and that ample parking was an issue.  He may have had a 2nd location in mind, or may have been considering relocating.   He preferred a location near Nebraska Avenue and Buffalo Ave. (today's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.,) or Seventh Avenue or Florida Ave.




Goody Goody moves down the block to the corner of Grand Central and Rome Ave.

By Nov. 1927, Stephens moved the Goody Goody down the block to the northeast corner of Grand Central and Rome, at 1629 Grand Central, where it operated until Oct. 1933. 

City street directory listings showing Goody Goody at 1603 Grand Central in 1926, 1927 and 1928*.

*Although Goody Goody is listed at 1603 Grand Central in 1928, a Nov. 1927 ad (see below) shows it had already moved to 1629.

Gasparilla Parade, 1926*
Stephens didn't miss a great advertising opportunity to parade his new business in front of Tampa's revelers, literally.  A Feb. 9, 1926 full page story on the Gasparilla parade states that there was a Goody Goody car in the parade.


Jan 10, 1927
*                                                                                                                Apr. 4, 1927*


A second Goody Goody opens in Tampa

In 1927, Stephens opened another unit at 5201 North Florida Avenue, in the Seminole Heights area, a block north of the Seminole Theater.


Goody Goody billboard from 1928-1930 advertising both locations
Photo from RetroMetro Oklahoma City
Place your cursor on the photo to see it colorized





Goody Goody in Seminole Heights first appears on the 1929 Tampa city directory, but the first promotional ad for Goody Goody, seen below, was for the Seminole Heights location and indicates that it opened by Nov. 3, 1927. 







Goody Goody promotional ads
Newspaper ads marked with * are courtesy of Tampa Tribune archives.

Beginning on Nov. 3, 1927, through October 1928, over 300 Goody Goody ads appeared in the Tribune and continued almost daily, rarely skipping a day, and rarely repeating the same ad for more than one or two days.  Some are presented here.

Regarding the "re-opening," it is not known at this time if it meant that it existed previously and had been closed for a time.




Nov. 3, 1927



*Nov. 9, 1927 - This ad is evidence that Goody Goody was already at 1629 Grand Central Ave. by the end of 1927.

*Nov. 17, 1927



*Nov. 23, 1927 - "--come out and buy a bottle of beer..."

Prohibition was in effect from 1919 to 1933, but during that time, brewers were allowed to make beer containing less than ½% alcohol per volume. This became known as Near Beer.

On February 20, 1933, Congress enabled states to ratify the 21st Amendment (repeal of Prohibition) if they chose, which most did rather quickly, but Florida waited until Nov. 14, 1933.  On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt had already signed into law the Cullen–Harrison Act, legalizing beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent (by weight) and wine of a similarly low alcohol content.

*Nov. 24, 1927

*Nov. 26, 1927


*Dec. 4, 1927
"Mrs. Goody Goody" is clearly a reference to Amanda Stephens.  She may have even managed the Seminole Heights location.

*Dec. 9, 1927
Stephens adds a sketch of the Grand Central location to his advertisements.  This begins a long series of ads in this format, with different messages.  Notice the parking shelters with palmetto frond roofs, which was replaced by 1930. 


Original car shelters with palmetto frond roof at the Grand Central Ave.
Goody Goody circa 1928 Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of
RetroMetro Oklahoma City


*Dec 23, 1927

*Jan 1, 1928


*Jan 19, 1928
Before they came to Tampa, while in Hannibal, Amanda Stephens had obtained a recipe for “Come-Back” sauce from a barbeque stand in nearby Quincy, Ill.  It became the famous Goody Goody Secret Sauce used until its last day of operation in Tampa.

*Feb. 11, 1928
Ralph Stephens was apparently doing well enough to trade up from his 1927 Master Six 5-passenger Buick sedan to an Imperial 80 Chrysler sedan.  Notice Hyde Park Motor Co. was caddy-corner to the Goody Goody on Grand Central Ave.


1927 Buick Master Six 5-passenger sedan, photo courtesy of eBay

1928 Chrysler Imperial L80 Sedan, photo courtesy of



*Feb 13, 1928

*May 6, 1928


In 1926, Stephens was living one block west of the Goody Goody--at 1715 Grand Central.  The 1927 Tampa city directory does not list a home address for Stephens, it only shows "(Goody Goody Barbeque)" next to his name.  The 1928 directory shows that he resided at 1603 Grand Central, the restaurant itself. 

*May 27, 1928
This May 27, 1928 Want Ad shows he was looking for a furnished home to rent for himself and his family.  He is not listed in the Stephens section of he 1929 directory, but is listed in the G section as the owner of Goody Goody at 5201 Florida Ave.

*Jun 26, 1928


*Aug 15, 1928

*Sep 15, 1928


*Oct. 26, 1928
Inexplicably, this was the last promotional ad of 1928.  Stephens placed a want ad for a cleaning woman on Nov. 27th & 28th.

*The absence of Goody Goody ads continued until this very small one appeared on May 13, 1929.  This same ad continued throughout the year, appearing less often--once every 3 to 5 or 6 days.


Ralph Stephens sells to William Stayer

Ralph Stephens celebrating his 90th birthday in Oklahoma City, with his daughter Dolores Boyle, and sons Robert and Vince.  1982
More about Ralph Stephens
Photo from RetroMetro Oklahoma City

The collapse of the Florida land boom in the late 20s caused Stephens to once again want to bail out.

Stephens sold the Goody Goody to William B. Stayer in 1929 and the Stephens family returned to Oklahoma City with Ralph determined to settle his debts and prove he could be a successful restaurant operator.  He and his family left Tampa and returned to Oklahoma City armed with their "secret weapon" Before they came to Tampa, while in Hannibal, Amanda Stephens had obtained a recipe for “comeback” sauce from a barbeque stand in nearby Quincy, Ill. It may have been the origin of the famous Goody-Goody secret sauce used in Tampa.  He went on to successfully establish "Delores Restaurant," named for his daughter. 



Dolores' Restaurant in Oklahoma City opened at 33 NE 23rd on April 15, 1930.
It was named after Stephens’ daughter. Photo from RetroMetro Oklahoma City

The Ralph Stephens story and above photo comes from OKC History where you can read more about the Stephens family and the years after Tampa.  Stephens went on to open a successful restaurant named after his daughter, Dolores.


    Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of David Parsons, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


Goody Goody at 1629 Grand Central Ave. and Rome Ave, 1932
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of David Parsons, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Today, this is the location of KFC/Taco Bell and its drive-through on the north side of Kennedy Blvd. at Rome Ave.


Seminole Theater at 5101 N. Florida Ave. in 1926
Burgert Bros. photo from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


The 1929 Tampa city directory shows Goody Goody listed at 5201 N. Florida Ave. at Frierson Avenue, a block north of the Seminole Theater shown in this photo.  This is the only year this location was listed.  Notice Seminole Sandwich Shop at 5021 N. Florida Ave.

THE STAYER YEARS  1929 - 1980


Special thanks to Glenda Stayer Wood for contributing the personal information below about her grandfather, William Bechtel Stayer, and his family.  The information is presented here in paraphrases and quotes from William's sons and daughter, and from some of the Stayer cousins, collected by Glenda with the help of her cousins.  Stayer family photos are courtesy of Glenda Stayer Wood and Elizabeth New Nolan. Carl Stayer's ads and his writings are courtesy of Pipper Stayer Ellinor.


William Bechtel Stayer, 1909. 

William "Papa" Bechtel Stayer
William Bechtel Stayer was born in 1883 in New Enterprise, Penn.  Growing up, William was a good student, had a fine voice, and dark black hair. When he was in high school, he taught school and later went to Juniata College to prepare for a teaching career.  He grew up to be a handsome man with a ready smile and a fine command of the English language at home, among friends, at work or in the clubs – wherever he went.  He had a round German face, a natural smile and a fine tenor voice.


William and Edna, ca. 1910

Marriage to Edna Shires

William's time at Juniata College was brief.  In 1903 William married Edna Maude Shires (a daughter of John Emory Shires and Iola Gertrude Stover) in Altoona, Penn.  In the early years of their marriage, William worked as a postal clerk in the Railway Mail Service, sorting the mail on trains from New York to Pittsburgh. In 1909, the Stayers settled in Pittsburgh, and by 1915, with a wife and five children to support, William left the Railway Mail Service to sell insurance. 







In 1918, Edna died of the Spanish Influenza when the epidemic was sweeping the country, leaving William with five children to raise: Carl age 14, Bill age 13, Glenn age 8, Betty age 5, and Bob age 3.   In 1920, William married Mary Mitchell Cooper in Philadelphia, Penn.


William B. Stayer's insurance business
William was a partner in the Carl Vander Voort Company and insured lumber yards and dealers. The great Kemper Company was one of the reinsuring agents and had a trade organization called The Retail Lumber Dealers Association of which William was the secretary. Each year William organized and was Master of Ceremonies for conventions lasting at least four days in the ballroom of the William Penn Hotel.  He would book some of the country's most noted speakers like Pres. Bradley of Chicago., Con. McCole of Wilkes Barre, Sen. Carraway of Ark., and Sen. Welles of Ohio and many more.


William B. Stayer moves to Florida, buys an orange grove

William and Sadie Rawls Stayer, 1929


Around 1927, William sold his partnership in Carl Vander Voort Company and decided to make a new start in Florida.  At age 45, the Pittsburgh story was over. His second marriage having failed, he bought a grove and moved with his children to Winter Haven, Florida.  He stayed there for a few months and  then moved to Lakeland where he bought a 50-acre grove.





While in Lakeland, William was hospitalized and a nurse named Sadie Rawls took care of him.  Sadie became his third wife on May 30, 1929.






Stayer listed his occupation as "Citrus Grower."  He and Sadie had both been married and divorced before.




According to his eldest son, Carl Stayer, "He arranged to have his grove fertilized, have it sprayed with insecticide and to pick the fruit. That would take about ten days out of the year and leave Dad about 355 for the Elks Club and managing his family. Still Dad didn't have enough to do." 


"Dad had traveled frequently to Tampa to eat dinner in the great Spanish restaurants and drink in the bars.  Tampa was a very pleasant city then, as it has been ever since. It was a seaport and had a very large second and third generation Latin population to cook fine food, to make good cigars and to operate social clubs where they played dominos and talked. They were gentlemen in the old fashioned way."





William B. Stayer advertises for an established business

When William and Sadie returned from their honeymoon, William was itching to get back into business.  A common story among the Stayer family was that "watching oranges ripen was too boring."  So William placed a classified ad that read:  "Have $10,000 to invest, would like to buy a small business."  According to his daughter, Elizabeth, he got lots of replies; many came from barbeque stands caught in the economic collapse of the late 1920s.  "During the Great Depression, there were many businesses for sale. There used to be sandwich shacks all along the highway, but Papa wanted no part of them.  No shacks. He got a bushel of answers from all over south Florida, but the businesses were dead; there was  nothing worthy of investigation and so Papa became discouraged."


William Bechtel Stayer, around the time he bought Goody Goody.  Everyone who knew him, friends and family alike, called him "Papa."

 The Elks Club building at 425 N. Florida Ave. in 1915.  It was demolished in 1962.  Photo courtesy of the Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

"Then Papa met a real estate man at the Elks Club. Papa told the man that he had a little money to invest and the real estate man told him that he knew of a flourishing drive-in barbecue business. The man told him, 'There is a barbecue pit in the back where they do their own barbecuing.  The owner Mr. Stephens came from Oklahoma City and set up a good business. His wife couldn't stand it here because it was low class, only a barbecue stand.'"

"Papa had vowed not to buy a barbeque stand, but did anyway.  Ralph Stephens' Goody Goody appealed to him."  So William moved his family to Tampa and became a restaurant operator. 


Elizabeth "Betty" Stayer




Stayer first tries to improve on the Grand Central location



Goody Goody Barbecue at 1629 Grand Central Ave., Tampa - 1930


Notice the sign on the building, Goody-Goody Barbeque No. 2
(No. 1 was the Goody-Goody in Hannibal, MO.)




William B. Stayer opens a new location downtown

The new downtown Goody Goody

On Mar. 9, 1930, William obtained a permit to build a lunchroom for $3,400 at 1117-9 Florida Avenue.  On April 3, 1930, he opened "Goody Goody Sandwiches" at a new location in the northern downtown area--1119 N. Florida Avenue. 







The location at 1119-1121 North Florida Avenue downtown was previously a car lot in 1928, and August Richarde's confectioner, and Robinson's Used Car Market in late 1928-early 1929.





Mr. & Mrs. William B. Stayer and the staff pose the day before opening
This photo was part of a full page of ads which are shown below.


Henderson Baking Co. and delivery truck at 2700 block of N. Florida Avenue; Goody Goody's bread supplier.
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System

In 1940, William Stayer's son, Dr. Glenn Stayer, married Marian Irene Henderson, daughter of Marvin H.  Henderson. Sr.  Marian's uncle owned the Henderson Baking Company.



After opening at 1119 Fla. Ave., William wanted to consolidate operations at this location downtown. In March or April of 1930 he closed the 5201 N. Florida Avenue location in Seminole Heights.   The last mention of that location is in a Mar. 27, 1930 article about local robberies.






The type of ads seen below appeared over 300 times, almost daily from May 29, 1930 through Nov. 1931.

        April 4, 1930
*                                                                                                  May 11, 1930*




Goody Goody downtown on Florida Avenue in 1932   
Burgert Bros. photo from the USF Digital collections of photographs
See full size

Notice the same desk chairs from the Grand Central location.

Close ups from 1932 downtown location photo

Carl Stayer


Carl Stayer on Goody Goody's beginnings

"When Dad bought the business, he bought the recipes for the pies and the barbeque sauce, and stayed very close to the methods of buying and preparing the materials, especially the hamburger meat. We operated the business for 50 years and when we left it, the recipes and methods were the same as when we bought them."

Carl's memories of his father:  "He could not do short-order cooking, run the cash register or wash the dishes.  What he did might be called maitre d' in a class restaurant and public relations officer in a large corporation. He patrolled the drive-in section, directed traffic and met the customers. It was a popular restaurant with the most prominent people in town driving in. Very soon he was Mr. Goody-Goody in Tampa. In his leisure he went to the Elks Club, Paul Webber’s White Rose and other bars, and promoted the Goody-Goody the way those places he frequented sold their drinks. In the yard he kept selling himself and his product, also in clubs wherever he went. It was a humble business but he raised the restaurant up to his dignified and infectious personality and it became very well known all over south Florida."

Despite the depression gripping the country, the Goody Goody "clicked" at 1119 Florida Avenue. 


Even though "Barbeque" stayed on the signs and on the menu for years, the Goody Goody made its reputation with its hamburgers--liberally doused with a specially-made barbeque sauce--and its pies.  The sauce and pie recipes were closely guarded secrets.

Sep 17, 1933 ad* "Draft beer is at last GOOD," a reference to the end of Prohibition

Oct. 2, 1933
See Rock Garden ad below

Nature's Rock Garden at Goody Goody
1119 N. Florida Ave.

The original Goody Goody on Grand Central closes

At left,  an Oct. 22, 1933 ad in the Tribune said that the original location "will be used only as a manufacturing plant.  All public service will be carried on at our plant at 1115-1119 Florida Avenue where we have just completed Nature's Rock Garden, America's most unique dining room."

On Oct. 22, 1933, the Goody Goody on Grand Central Ave. closed.  Perhaps William B. Stayer intended to continue using the Grand Central location to prepare the meats or other items, then serve them at the Florida Avenue location, but on Nov. 30, 1933, he obtained a permit and at a cost of $50 and demolished the old location.


Photos below courtesy of David Parsons, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library
Goody Goody at 1119 N. Florida Avenue - The "rock garden" dining room

It was the end of Prohibition and beer was on the menu at Goody Goody.

Close up of booths

Salt, pepper, sugar bowl

Graupner's X-tra Fine Beer and Falls City Beer ads on the wall and close up of sign above clerk



Sep 22, 1935

Robert E. Gibson was a long-time Tampa oyster and seafood retailer.  From 1912 to the mid-1930s he operated in Tampa's local markets such as City Fish Market at #34 City Markets downtown, and as proprietor of his own oyster harvesting business.  In 1928 he partnered with the Mirabella's as "Gibson and Mirabella."  These ads in September of 1935 show he was manager of the oyster bar at Goody Goody downtown.  It was probably an arrangement he had with Stayer where Gibson sold his oysters at Goody Goody and Stayer got a cut of the profit.  The ad ran almost every day for a month.

1915 ad


Goody Goody in Jacksonville

1940 Jacksonville city directory

Around 1938 or 1939, Stayer opened a Goody Goody in Jacksonville, FL at 128 Riverside Ave, with Paul Gilbert as the manager.  It operated until 1941.  Paul Gilbert,  a long-time Goody Goody employee, was listed as a sandwich maker at Goody Goody in Tampa in the city directory.  From 1930 to 1936 (the last directory researched) and probably through 1937, he worked as a clerk, manager, and cook in Tampa.  Due to missing pages from the Jacksonville city directories, it is not possible at this time to determine if Goody Goody was there in 1938 and 1939.  Gilbert first appears in Jacksonville on the 1940 census and 1940 directory with his occupation is "fountain man" at "Goody Goody Sandwiches."  After 1941, Goody Goody Sandwiches no longer is listed in Jacksonville directories.


Feb 24, 1941 - Inside the Goody Goody, downtown Tampa
Some time by Feb. 1941, the Goody Goody was expanded in the front with the addition of this dining room. 
The original front wall of the building became the partition with archway seen at left.
See the layout of the Goody Goody through the years, with expansions indicated.
Robertson & Fresh photo from the University of South Florida Digital Collections

Close up portions of above photo


Sign at service counter
"Open 11am, Close 2am, Except Fri. & Sat"

Sign: Pie with Ice Cream 15¢             Coffee mugs              

Items on table: Stokley's ketchup, hot sauce, glass oil & vinegar cruets in wire serving basket with salt & pepper shakers, sugar bowl, water glasses, coffee mugs

Menu with image of milk carton on cover, napkin dispenser, ketchup bottle, unknown sauce bottle, chair back.




Dining room door, south side, and waiter





Customers Customers

Customers Customers


William Stayer returns to farming

"Around 1940 Papa's dream of living on a farm came over him again. This time it was a dairy farm in Palm River, but not a recently built dairy farm. He was going to expand, farm and pasteurize the milk for the Goody-Goody. This didn’t go far as the health department outlined extensive rebuilding and new equipment necessary.  So instead, he had a neighbor graze his cattle on the 10 acres to control the grass and weeds. He moved Sadie out there and in the evening when he went to the Elks Club, he would bring her into town to wait for him at the Goody-Goody."



Bob Stayer - Mainstay of Goody Goody

Sons Bill and Bob Stayer got involved in the business--with Bob, the youngest, becoming his father's mainstay in the day-to-day operation of Goody Goody.  Another son, Glenn, became a doctor in and lived in Tampa before moving to Birmingham, Alabama. 






William "Bill" Drew Stayer Robert "Bob" Edward Stayer










Bill and Bob Stayer, with their father William B. Stayer. 








On Jan. 26, 1944, Bob Stayer, a popular young man, drowned in a tragic accident at age 28.  It was a grievous loss to the Stayer family as well as to friends and patrons of Goody Goody, and the loss of his favorite son caused William great anguish. 










Carl Stayer and his family moves to Tampa

It was at this time that William B. Stayer was able to convince his eldest son Carl, to leave his promising job with GM in Harrisburg, PA,  and bring his family to Tampa in 1945 to run the business.   












Carl remembered, "When we first went to Tampa to visit in 1932, stores downtown had signs that they spoke Spanish, but when I went there to live and do business, such a sign was not necessary.   The Spanish were very much a part of Tampa, making it a pleasant place to live, especially Ybor City and West Tampa and very much a part of the rest of the city. We dealt with Johnny Lala to buy our produce, the Garcia Brothers, Victor and Gonzalo for our insurance, Joe Gagliardo at the Florida Dairy, Poncho Gonzalez at Sealtest , Jose and Manuel Campoamor and Rudy Ginex for Seafood. Above all, we enjoyed the Spanish Restaurants. At the Spanish Park, as we came in from the parking area, Gus would seem to be walking away from us but when he came to greet us and take our order at the table , he already had our Martinis. Joe Valdes, the owner and his wife, along with Gus were our personal friends. Also, the Las Novedades and Cafe Seville on Howard Street."


"Most of us in GM working with the automobile dealers everyday had a yen to have our own business.  I was looking forward to the end of the war and having a branch of my own and being a top flight General Motors Executive. I was working in Pittsburgh for a new company, the General Exchange Insurance Corporation allied with General Motors Acceptance Corporation insuring financed cars. GEIC was a new business operated within the family of General Motors, itself in the early stages of competition with Ford."  


Stayer family life centered around 1119 Florida Avenue 

The Stayers at W. B. Stayer's dairy farm in Palm River, Palm River Road & 58th Street.  William's grandchildren in the front: Glenda, Pipper, Judy, Liz, Peter.   Back row on the left is Carl Stayer,  next to him is Marian Henderson Stayer, wife of Dr. Glenn Stayer.   The lady behind the children next to Marion Stayer is Avis Thibault Stayer, widow of Bob Stayer.  Behind her and to the right is Dr. Glenn Stayer. On the right is Sadie and her husband, William B. Stayer.

For William's daughter, Elizabeth "Betty" Stayer Hendryson, it was a great place to bring her high school friends after a dance.  Sometimes her tab shot as high as $2.50, which she charged to her dad.  But her dad soon ordered her to "cease and desist!"


Later, while Elizabeth was attending library school, her children Liz and Peter New came to live with their grandparents on the Palm River farm.  Liz, who lived there when she was 2 years old until she was 6, remembered getting bathed and dressed every afternoon for the trip to the Goody Goody.  After Liz and her brother ate supper in the restaurant, they would entertain themselves, waiting with their grandmother while their grandfather went off to play cards at the Elks Club.  "We would tear off one end of the paper wrappings on the straws and blow them at each other."  Although she was very young at the time, she remembers the employees.  "The waitresses always seemed so wonderful.  They were so good to us, and they were wonderful looking women.  They had a certain snappy talk, always cheerful."  She also recalls the managers--Lionel "Cicero" Roberts, William Mote and Milt Gaston.


Bill Stayer said, "I remember really looking forward to going into town to eat at the Goody Goody. I was known as the hamburger kid at the time. My favorite waitress there taught me how to place an order for a hamburger with just ketchup and a chocolate milkshake."








Goody Goody in 1941, with expanded dining room.
On the roof can be seen the partition which marks the location of the original front wall of the building.
Burgert Bros. photo from the University of South Florida Digital Collections


William Mote, former Goody Goody manager, recalls that there were big signs posted when he came to work in 1941:  "No Tips, Please."  The carhops were still young men, and the going salary was 20 cents per hour. 


Peter New, on his grandfather "Papa" Bill B. Stayer

Papa took me everywhere: to the orange plant, to Hav-A-Tampa cigar factory where I talked to the Cuban workers; to get supplies for the Goody Goody, particularly the boxes of hot dogs precooked, my favorite thing; to the bread factory, hundreds of loaves of bread; to the mayonnaise factory, to the tomato farm. We went to Morton’s meat packing plant, went into gigantic refrigerators where sides of beef were hanging on hooks. Papa picked out what he wanted and big trucks brought them to Goody Goody. Papa would keep a copy of the Congressional Record in the front seat of the car and make long lists of things to do with his pencil.



Goody Goody letterhead, 1940. 




Milton Gaston, Goody Goody manager, by Carl Stayer

Nathaniel Milton Gaston, 1928 - The only year he was with the Washington Senators.  Photo from Mears Monthly Auctions

Dad had been our companion in baseball from the time we were about six years old. By the time Bill and I approached age 40 we were familiar with the personnel on the baseball teams and had followed the action daily. We idolized baseball players, but I had never met one.


When I got to Tampa, there was a real life player, Milton Gaston, as one of the managers of the Goody Goody. He had played for the Patterson Silk Sox in New Jersey, then on into military service where he was on the battleship "Texas," the champion of the service teams. After the war was over, his brother Alex, who was a catcher for the New York Giants, advised Milt to take an offer from the Yankees, where he played on that famous team with Babe Ruth. After a year he was traded to the Browns in St. Louis where he met his lovely wife Pearl, who was especially admired by my wife Peg. He then went to Washington, then on to Boston where his wife's sister was to meet another good pitcher, Danny McFayden, and they were married. Finally he closed his career with the White Sox.


When I worked with Milt I wondered again why Dad had asked me to come to Florida. Milt was a level-headed intelligent man that could have managed the business very well without the help of a member of the family. Our duties involved both being there at noon and maybe having a half hour at 2pm to sit together and talk, and better than that, about two hours on Saturday and Sunday evening. There, I was practically in the dugout at my favorite game of baseball.






Milt Gaston (86 at the time of Hampton Dunn's 1992 article) lived in Bradenton and was the oldest former ball player for the Boston Red Sox at the time.  He managed the Goody Goody for a number of years before becoming a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy. 






Goody Goody waitresses, circa 1950-51


Place your cursor on the photo to see names.

The "Goody Goody Girls" circa 1950-51 was shared with TampaPix by  E. Marie DeArmas Barnhill. The photo belongs to Marie's mother-in-law, Zena Sanford, who is seated 2nd from far right, looking over her shoulder.   Zena married Tom Barnhill in July of 1951 and she said it was taken a short time before she married. The photo was taken by Hal's studio of photography, 8716 Edison, Tampa Florida. The individual portrait at right left is from Paul Sherman studio, 409 E Cass St. Rm 236, Tampa.

Sometime after adding the above photo to this feature, TampaPix was contacted by Dave Gaskins, who identified his mom, Loraine Brown Gaskins, in the photo.  Loriane said "The carhop/waitress 'uniform' was the white peasant blouse and red skirt, which was hand made and provided for the girls with the cost deducted from their pay, along with white shoes. Their jobs as carhops were highly coveted as the tips earned were quite substantial for the day." 

Recently, TampaPix was contacted by Darby Cobb, who identified her aunt and her mom in the photo!  Darby's mom, Ella Louise Cook, and aunt Phyllis Marie Cook, were sisters.


Dave Gaskins points to  his mom, Goody Goody waitress Loraine Brown Gaskins.  Photo courtesy of Goody Goody Facebook page.  Thanks, Dave, for your and your mom's memories of the waitresses and their uniforms!

Darby Cobb's mom poses in front of the picture she posed in about 68 years ago when she was Ella Louise Cook!  Ella is all the way in the back in front of the mirror.  Thanks, Ella and Darby for sharing this priceless treasure!

Photo & caption below from "Tampa Pastimes"
Sunland Tribune 15/1 (November 1989)
A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, from the USF Library digital collections.

Just a chance to flirt with a bevy of pretty car-hops was enough to draw the guys to The Goody Goody at 1119-21 Florida Ave. in the glory days before and after World War II. But the food - especially those delicious pies-was the best in town. The popular restaurant was family-owned from 1929 when William B. Stayer bought the place until it was closed in May 1984. A few months later, in January 1985, one of the long-time Goody Goody girls, Yvonne Freeman, reopened the landmark. This photo was taken about 1945**. -Photo from HAMPTON DUNN COLLECTION


About the aluminum chairs

Legend has it that the seat was modeled after Betty Grable's!



In 1944, Wilton Carlyle Dinges founded the Electrical Machine and Equipment Company (Emeco) in Hanover, Pennsylvania, utilizing the skills of local craftsmen. During WWII the U.S. government gave him a big assignment, make chairs that could withstand water, salt air and sailors. Make chairs lightweight and make them strong, build them for a lifetime. Aluminum was the obvious choice, engineered for practical purposes, designed by real people. Emeco named the chair with a number: 1006, some people call it the Navy chair. Emeco still call it the Ten-o-six.  Forming, welding, grinding, heat-treating, finishing, and anodizing, are just a few of the 77 steps it takes to build an Emeco chair. No one else makes chairs this way. No one can. It takes a human eye to know when the process is done right, and it takes human hands to get it that way. Emeco's goal--make recycling obsolete by continuing to make things that last. 

Emeco website  YouTube Video



When customers drove up for curbside service in the late 1940s, a hamburger cost 30 cents. 

The last car was served in May of 1984


Click menu pages to see full size


Bill McKechnie, Reds manager from 1938 to 1946

In 1934, Gabe Paul was traveling secretary of the Red Wings and two years later, he was brought to Cincinnati by Warren Giles. In 1943, Paul entered the army for a two-year stint, then rejoined the Reds. By 1947, Paul was named assistant to the vice president and took over as vice president and general manager in 1951, succeeding Giles, who left to become National League president. Photo from Out of the Park Community Blog

Goody Goody fed the Cincinnati Reds
After the WWII ended, the Cincinnati Reds returned to Tampa for Spring Training.  They had 175 players to try out, including all of those that had left the team for war duty over a period of 4 years.  Bill McKechnie sent Gabe Paul to Goody Goody to ask them to supply their lunches. Carl Stayer was very happy to have this assignment and would carry the lunches to the dressing room himself to get close to the team. "We would make 175 sandwiches a day of ham, roast pork and beef, and cheese. The property manager, Larry McManus would give us a list of the sandwiches to be made for each player the day before and I would take them to the dressing room at noon when they came in from morning practice." 



To get the order and to assure further business, Carl Stayer went to all of the games. "I would buy a ticket at the ticket window and try to walk by Gabe Paul and wave hello with a rain check (his ticket stub) in my hands so he could see I was a paying customer, see the game and go to the dressing room for the next day’s order. Gabe was fussy about people he did business with getting in on passes."


Everyone in the kitchen worked on the Reds spring training orders with José, a Cuban cook, taking charge. When the spring games started, Carl began to receive comments from some players that their sandwich had twice as much meats in it on some days than others. Not knowing why, Carl spoke to José about it.  It turned out that José was watching the box scores and rewarding the players that hit home runs or pitched shutout ball with a double sandwich. Carl liked the idea and told Jose to go ahead with it.


  Ewell Blackwell and Goody Goody's milkshakes

Pitcher Ewell Blackwell of the Cincinnati Reds at Spring Training in March, 1942 at Plant Field in Tampa. Photo by Diamond Images / contributor

"Ewell Blackwell was on the team and pitched some of the most unhittable ball in the Majors in the next few seasons. In spite of a powerful pitching arm, he was too thin. The trainer suggested he drink a milk shake every night. He came to our fountain. Our Eddie Turlington was a baseball fan and here he was making milk shakes for Ewell Blackwell. A milk shake is supposed to be milk, a dip of ice cream and some flavoring. Eddie ignored the milk, filled the shaker with ice cream, put in a little flavoring and let the shaker stir it until it began to be a liquid, then let Blackwell decide whether to try to drink it or eat it with a spoon.

With shakes like that Eddie kept coming back. He had a fine record each season. Whether he gained weight I don't know."

Ewell Blackwell
1922 - 1996
Memorial at

Carl Stayer's Advertising


When Carl joined his dad in 1945 they both agreed that word of mouth advertising was the best for a good restaurant, but by 1953 a great many new restaurants were started on Dale Mabry and Hillsborough Avenues-- McDonalds, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and there were many new people who moved to those areas after the war, taking some of Goody Goody's business with them.

In order to curb the loss of business, Carl advertised for a year or two to reverse the trend. He didn't need to reason with himself very long.  The business increased immediately, and so Carl went right on through the second year using a small ad each week.   He treated his new endeavor as seriously as the advertising manager for Oldsmobile treated the introduction of a new model, and worked very hard at it. He wrote his own ads, taking space in the Tampa Tribune once a week.  Carl was a heavy reader, and read about history a great deal, and when he read of the eating habits of the Romans or the people of Zanzibar, he had an ad for that week. When he read of the development of a new food, whether it was chicken, coffee, cheese, hamburgers, or whatever, Carl had his ads. When little things happened in the business that he thought were worth a headline, he had an ad.







In the 1940s and 1950s, there was a sign on the south side of the Goody Goody parking lot that read
Koom Essa, Goot Essa.  Here are newspaper ads circa 1950s that used the same phrase.

By the 1980s, the sign and the phrase had been forgotten, except for the new owners who made a small sign with the phrase, framed it, and hung it on the wall when they were decorating the place.

The Pennsylvania Dutch were not Dutch at all; they were German.  The word Dutch in this usage  is often thought to be a corruption of Deitsch, which is itself a local variant of the modern German Deutsch, meaning German in German!.  Koom Essa seems to be a phonetic spelling/variant of Kumm Esse which means come eat, come dine or come to dinner.  Likewise, Goot Essa, is from Gut Esse, which means Good dinner or Good meal.

Goody Goody newspaper ads, 1950s and 1960s, courtesy of Pipper Stayer Ellinor

"Our small ads attracted attention with reverse appeals such as, We have sold no Cuban sandwiches out of respect for Tampa’s Spanish restaurants. We combined humor with a small advertising budget and came up with business gains."  When a man left his cane in the dining room, Carl had a headline: Man comes in with cane and goes out without it. Must have found new strength with our hamburgers.

One ad brought a United Press International story and a brief appearance in The New York Times in 1956.

Grandma Had to Pick Butterscotches in the Garden to Make a Pie.
We get our butterscotches fresh from Homosassa each morning. All you have to do is drive in and be served. P.S. We know butterscotch is butter and brown sugar. We’ve made 250,000 butterscotch pies. Our apologies to Homosassa which has never grown a single butterscotch.

We Do Not Make the Best Apple Pie in the World
Our mothers and grandmothers do. They learned it cooking for large families over old-fashioned coal or wood stoves. But We Do Make the Next Best.




This 1965 newspaper ad lists all the Goody Goody employees and the number of years working there to date.



Goody Goody's dedicated employees
William Stayer capitalized on his assets:  recipes that customers liked and employees who performed their job well.  Along with the business, William acquired key employees.

  • Annabelle Johnson, Pie Baker. There may have been mothers and grandmothers that could bake better pies in their own kitchen, but none that baked them better to sell, along with an unusual personality.

  • Nathaniel Wilson, never called anything but "Peanuts," bought front quarters of beef and ground them up, added just the right amount of fat, and made the mouth-watering hamburgers.

  • Lulu Hester, a sweet person who listened, smiled, talked a little and worked very hard.

  • Maggie Rice was a cleaner who had a lifetime war with dirt, kept the dining room and kitchen spotless. Maggie was the opposite of Lulu. She liked to be considered a little stern and did not smile as easily.

  • Shelley Hayes, who had lived a life of hard labor working on the railroad, as what they called a "Gandy Dancer," maintaining the right-of-way.  He was a good humored old guy who had never learned to read or even to write his own name. He did odd jobs and cleaned the yard and washed dishes when the regular dishwasher failed to show up.

  • "Shorty" who could work at many jobs like clean the yard, clean the kitchen and even cook a little. 

  • Lionel “Cicero” Roberts, manager, started work in 1929 as a carhop. The day he started, someone asked what the new kid’s name was and Bob Stayer, remembering that Lionel took Latin with Elizabeth Stayer in high school, said “I don’t know. Call him Cicero.” That was when the Goody Goody’s parking lot was made of oyster shells and on rainy days, Cicero’s shoes would bog down in the shells and get all cut up as he waited on the cars. By 1978 he was working at the take-out window.

William Mote, Dec. 2005


  • William Mote, manager, started in 1941. Over the years, he worked as a carhop, behind the soda fountain, and in the kitchen. Mote remembered that in 1941 there were big signs posted that said. “No tips, please.” The carhops were young men and the going salary was 20 cents an hour.  Mote’s wife Lillian Rae Mote started as a carhop in 1950. She was very slender and Cicero, the manager who hired Rae, teased her, saying that she had to stand in the same spot twice to make a shadow. 



  • Yvonne Freeman

    Yvonne Freeman started as a carhop in 1947 and then worked as a waitress. Throughout her years at the Goody Goody, she always worked to keep the same wholesome atmosphere. Yvonne then leased the Goody Goody from owner Mike Wheeler and operated it from 1984 until it closed in 2005.

  • Bonnie Lauria, waitress, started work in 1943. She always thought that the other employees and the customers were part of her family.

  • Susan Weaver, cashier, once said, "It isn’t the money I come down here for. It’s just all the customers. There’s a homey atmosphere here. We are treated like family. Coming to work is like a tranquilizer. I have met my best friends here.



Goody Goody newspaper ads, 1950s and 1960s, courtesy of Pipper Stayer Ellinor

These ads show how Carl Stayer used history to advertise coffee, pies, steak, cheeseburgers and chili.

Carl Stayer was a master at advertising, and he didn't fail to give credit where it was due.

These three ads from the 1950s and 1960s give praise to the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire & Rescue.

"We especially appreciated this letter. We had the good fortune to be a good place for the Police to stop by when they were on duty, with the radios open for messages, to get coffee, Coca Colas and a quick snack. Also for the Patrolmen on duty on Franklin St. to stop by for a moment's break. We became well acquainted with these fine young men and enjoyed knowing them. The fire department came very quickly a number of times, but especially in 1958 when they saved the business." --Carl Stayer



William Bechtel Stayer
"Mr. Goody Goody"

William Bechtel Stayer suffered a stroke in 1949 and passed away on Feb. 21, 1953.  During the four years he was incapacitated, he was taken care of at home by his loving wife, Sadie.  He is buried in Myrtle Hill Memorial Park.

Carl Stayer retired in 1974.  In 1989 he wrote "Now I am writing to occupy my time at 85 and I see them [his Goody Goody ads over the years] all in the space of a few days. You spend a lot of time when you are my age, looking back at the good things and also the bad. Fortunately, there are more good than bad and this opportunity to write about the advertising program has taken me back to the happy years operating the Goody-Goody and being a part of that great city of Tampa."

Annie Sadie Rawls Stayer
"Mrs. Goody Goody"

After Carl retired, Judy Stayer Richter (daughter of Bob and Avis Stayer) managed the Goody Goody until it was sold to Mike Wheeler in 1980.

Carl Stayer died on Aug. 8, 1990 in Havana, FL.  He is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Havana, FL.  Carl was born Mar. 22, 1904 in Altoona, PA.  He attended Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio in the mid 1920s. Carl and his wife Margaret had two children, Jan and Carol A. Stayer.


Images below of circa mid to late 1950s Stayer & Sons Co. Goody Goody menu from the University of South Florida Special Collections of restaurant menus provided by Rex Gordon, Hillsborough High School historian.

Front cover Page 1 Stapled on top of page 2 Page 2 under stapled insert Back - Tribute to "Papa" Stayer

Click on each page to view larger in new window, then click in new window to view full size.





The back of the
Goody Goody menu in 1975








For a history of the Goody Goody during the Wheeler/Freeman years, 1980 - 2005, visit Goody Goody Tree and Goody Goody here at




Goody Goody in the 1960s
Photo of memorabilia on the wall at Goody Goody

1960s Goody Goody letterhead, courtesy of Mike Wheeler.


Sponsor ad in 1966 Chamberlain High School yearbook



Some time between 1932 and 1941, the dining area was expanded at the front of the building.
This partition marks where the building's original front wall facing Florida Avenue was located.

The original lettering on the front of the building could be seen in the crawl space above the dining area.


For a complete history of Goody Goody from beginning to end, and more photos,
visit  Goody Goody Family Tree





Goody Goody p1   |    Goody Goody Roots - p2   

 Goody Old Days  - Stephens brings Goody Goody to Tampa & the Stayer Years- p3

The End of an Era:  Last Day p1    |   Last Day p2   |   Last Day p3   |  Last Day p4  |  Demolition 

Behind the Scenes - Goody Goody Layout   |  Goody Goody Family Tree 

Scene from the movie "The Punisher" filmed in the Goody Goody

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