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Answer Man: What can you tell me about Oscar’s restaurant?

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Answer Man: What can you tell me about Oscar’s restaurant?

The building where Oscar’s restaurant operated still stands in downtown Dothan.

Q: What can you tell me about Oscar’s restaurant?

A: Oscar’s was founded in the early 1940s by Oscar Mose Saliba (Jan. 21, 1905-June 7, 1985).

The restaurant was at 410 N. St. Andrews St., on the southeast corner of the East Newton Street intersection in downtown Dothan.

The son of Mose Thomas Saliba and Sara Saliba, Oscar was a Dothan native. He participated in baseball and football at Dothan High School and attended Marion Institute on a football scholarship.

Before Saliba opened Oscar’s, a restaurant called Gene’s Barbecue operated at that address, according to the 1939 city directory.

Oscar’s went through many changes in the 43 years that Oscar ran it. It was called Oscar’s Sandwich Shop in the 1950s and was advertised as a drive-in starting about 1963.

The year Oscar died, the listing in the city directory called it “Everyone’s Favorite Eating Place.” Some of the items on the menu were fried chicken, club steaks, shrimp and pit-cooked barbecue.

Recollections on Facebook’s “Old Dothan AL Memories” page show the restaurant was a favorite destination for locals who wanted to eat out or order food to go.

“Went every Friday night,” one woman wrote.

“My first date with my first husband,” another remembered. “And until then I didn’t even like hotdogs; wish I had an Oscar’s dog right now!”

One woman wrote: “Our parents took us to Oscar’s on Saturday evening where we watched the window puppet show from our car while enjoying the delicious chili and hot dogs with bottled Coca-Cola. Loved those weekly rituals.”

“Ate there many times, after church on Sunday night, after Headland football games,” one man recollected.

“Oscar’s was my first job, 13-14 yrs old in 69-70,” another man wrote. “I learned a lot about solid work ethics from Oscar and Mae.”

“The best messy hamburgers ever!!!” one woman wrote.

“Loved the hamburgers!” another said.

“I never went there but my Dad would bring hot dogs home for us to eat on rare occasions,” one woman posted.

“Will never forget it!” another woman wrote. “Wish I could go there right now. Wonderful cheeseburger & hotdogs. Yum!”

“My grandmother lived right across the street next door,” one man wrote. “Best milkshake and food in Dothan and great curb service.”

“You could get a barbecue sandwich with chipped or sliced meat,” another man wrote. “Great food and loved the shakes!!” one woman recalled. “Yes!!! & Oscar’s had the best hamburger steak,” another woman wrote.

Starting in the 1950s the restaurant had tabletop devices called wall boxes that were connected to the jukebox. The devices let customers choose tunes from their table and were invented to increase the revenue from jukeboxes in diners.

“Went there every Sunday night after church … circular corner booths and juke box access … great times!!” one man wrote.

“And the miniature orchestra mounted on the wall,” one man recalled. “Activated when the jukebox played.”

“One of my earliest memories!!” a woman recollected. “Going out to eat with Mama and Daddy. We’d play the jukebox so I could watch the little band that played along while eating a chili dog and drinking a Coke that burned my mouth after the chili, but I didn’t care. I remember Oscar and Mae very well. Daddy and I visited with Mae Christmas Eve 1988.”

“My family and I ate there almost every Sunday night after church,” one woman recalled. “We ate inside. My brother, Craig, liked the juke box and daddy would get mad at him for ‘wasting’ money.”

“I ‘wasted’ a lot of money in those too,” another woman responded.


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