Clipped From South Florida Sun Sentinel
w NewsSun-Sentinel, NewsSun-Sentinel, NewsSun-Sentinel, Wednesday, July 1, 1987 9 PEOPLE k I t t. i Family recipe for success: All you can eat No frills, just good, plain food "s&! , Stratford's sign, left, welcomes diners who can find fresh food at all-you-can-eat all-you-can-eat all-you-can-eat all-you-can-eat all-you-can-eat all-you-can-eat all-you-can-eat prices. Below, cook Hank Kubtz prepares to cook some steaks as Stratford's Stratford's owner, Guy Roper, Roper, looks on. Staff photosDEBORAH MEEKS By MARLA WILLIAMS Staff Writer Reaching across a clutter of crumpled napkins, shrimp shells and half-eaten half-eaten half-eaten buns, Ed Kitridge pushes a plate of steaming fried fish at a couple sitting sitting beside him. "Try the fish," Kitridge urges, holding the plate out to the newcomers. newcomers. "I've been coming here 20 years, and for $3.50 for all you can eat, the fish is the best in town." A Broward institution since 1938, Stratford's Restaurant and Bar, at Hollywood Boulevard and Interstate 95, has been drawing crowds for decades with bargain prices and good, plain food. Juggling second-helpings second-helpings second-helpings of crispy fish, cold beer, and a drippy dishrag, a perspiring waitress serves and clears a table, but forgets forgets to leave place settings for the new customers. The kind of place where elbows belong on the table, Stratford's is for people more concerned with what is on their plates than on the walls. Seen from the street, Stratford's, with its parapets, glass brick windows windows and neon signs, calls to mind the art deco style of the 1920s and 1930s. But the brightly lighted, glossy white and gunmetal gray interior of Stratford's is reminiscent of a longshoremen's hiring hall. Tacked to the walls, alongside a stuffed sailfish, are hand-made hand-made hand-made signs advertising: Glades Froglegs 4 pairs $6.95 and suggesting that if you: Eat Your Fill Then Pay Your Bill The Folks in Line Will Think You're Fine. "My wife makes the signs and works the front with our daughter on weekends; my son helps out back here in the kitchen," says Guy Roper, chief cook, dishwasher, and owner of Stratford's. "This is a real family business." Established by Roper's grandfather, grandfather, Al Stratford, the combination restaurant, bar and package store passed to Roper in 1958. "I came home from college to run the business," Roper says, lifting lifting a wire basket full of shrimp from a vat of boiling water. . "That's when Stratford's began fiMi,...Mi.Mii)i..ij.w"'jiiLiMwwiw. wijii.mmbi..' 1 ' 1 1 " "' i' ' i"i:ywvmvvmr'.wviimi- i"i:ywvmvvmr'.wviimi- hhimmiim minimum '. ma iiihiij yy ' msmmm -ma -ma a GUY ROPER: I came home from college to run the business. That's when Stratford's began offering all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat meals. But back then it was 89 cents for a beer and your fill of fish.' offering all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat all-you-could-eat meals. But back then it was 89 cents for a beer and your fill of fish." While prices have crept up over the years, little else has changed at Stratford's. It is still a come-as-you-are come-as-you-are come-as-you-are come-as-you-are come-as-you-are come-as-you-are come-as-you-are neighborhood bar and restaurant.. And there is almost always a line, despite Stratford's boardinghouse-style boardinghouse-style boardinghouse-style seating. But a sign over the door promises that if you are "Here By Ten, You're In." Running the length of the narrow restaurant, on either side, are rows . of Formica-topped Formica-topped Formica-topped tables with enough metal chairs to seat six to eight people. "We seat perfect strangers next to each but it works out really nice," says the garrulous Roper. Until last year, when he was elected to the Hollywood City Commission, Commission, Roper would sometimes spend his days in the Everglades, catching fish for the daily specials. Now, his duties on the commission commission and numerous charities have forced him to put away his rod and reel. But Roper says he still spends a lot of time looking for fresh seafood seafood for his customers. "Hank Kubtz, my dinner cook, and I will get up at the crack of dawn, drive to Lake Okeechobee for catfish, over to the West Coast for shrimp and .stone .crab,. any where we can, to buy fresh." In the bar, a party of nine, two jockeys and a few couples are drinking beer and waiting for a table table in the restaurant "We attract a kind of mixed clientele," clientele," says Steven Curren, the bartender, setting up another round of drinks. "Old people, young people, wealthy people, poor people. people. We're all mostly on a first name basis it's kind of like a club." "Why do people keep coming back, generation after generation? Well, it's not just the food, or our prices," Roper says. "It's because everybody thinks a little bit of the place belongs to them. And, in a . way, it does." .