As Chairman of the Board and former CEO of Eat’n Park, I’ve had so much fun helping the company grow over the last three decades. It’s been a year since I turned over the reins of CEO to my son Jeff, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on my favorite memories as we celebrate Eat’n Park’s 60th Anniversary.
You may not know that an early memory of mine became the seed for the idea of our most recognizable icon: the Smiley Cookie. Growing up in Titusville, PA, I would buy a smiley-faced cookie at a local bakery on my way home from school every day. I loved those cookies so much, and as an adult, I wanted to pass that feeling along to all of the children who visited our restaurants. The pride our bakers take in decorating the cookies brings joy to the faces of thousands of children everyday. I still can’t believe how popular the Smiley Cookie has become! The town of Titusville is proud of their role in our success. This summer, Titusville celebrated its famous heritage of being the place oil was discovered 150 years ago. Naturally, our Smiley mascot returned to his roots to be featured in the parade!
Another favorite memory of mine is our long and wonderful relationship with Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He loved Eat’n Park and was always helpful in developing menu items and activities for children and families who were enjoying a meal in our restaurants.
Speaking of kids, our Caring for Kids campaign has always been close to my heart, and I will never forget the talented “Eat’n Park Singers” from the 1980’s. They were a dedicated and caring group of team members who graciously volunteered their time and talent to record a Christmas album, perform in the restaurants, and to raise money for Children’s Hospital. They were very special people. I’m so proud that our team members carry on this tradition of volunteerism to this day, both in the Caring for Kids campaign and for many other worthy causes.
Reading through the stories that our guests have submitted has brought back even more memories, and even though I could probably fill a book, I’ll stop here for now. But you shouldn’t! Click here to share your memories with us. It’s been a fantastic 60 years, and we look forward to 60 more years as your Place for Smiles!