Déjà Food: Butter Warmers and the ‘Upper Class’ at Topinka’s


I had seen a butter warmer before, but it was in a magazine. However, this time — back in 1978, very young and used to the kitchen table — I would be dining out at Topinka’s On the Boulevard, and with a real butter warmer at my very own place setting!

My brother and his wife extended the invitation to join them that evening at this elegant, well-known, upscale dinner venue. They were six years older than my guest and I. We had arrived!

I surely wanted to do everything right: Wear the correct clothing, share the right conversation, use the right utensils.

And so did my sister-in-law — until she sat down and her cocktail dress was the exact same fabric as the linens that covered the table! They matched!

When the lobster tails arrived, I surely felt part of the upper class — for a few moments. Then my date that evening (who I later married) politely asked our server, “May I have some ketchup, please?”

Grand Boulevard will always be “Grand,” with Detroit jewels like the Fisher Building and others that remain. But thanks for letting me share my Topinka’s memory of long ago.
Janeen Rogowski, Sterling Heights

Do you have a story of a long-gone restaurant from metro Detroit’s storied past? Share your anecdotes of memorable meals or restaurant people — but don’t wax too poetic.  We’re only talking 200-300 words. If you have fun snapshots, all the better. We’ll give a $100 gift certificate to one of the finer “modern” restaurants in town to the author of items we publish. Email us at editorial@hourdetroit.com or snail mail us at 117 W. Third St., Royal Oak, MI 48067. Just put “Deja Food” on the subject line or envelope.