Manufacturer: Sterling China
User/Pattern name: Satellite grill plate, Piccadilly Cafeteria
Date of plates: 1977
Notes: From its website, "Piccadilly Cafeteria first opened in 1932 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Twelve years later, a budding restaurateur by the name of T. H. Hamilton took the reins with hopes of growing the business."
According to fundinguniverse.com, "Hamilton, who had already been working in the cafeteria business for 21 years when he traveled to Louisiana to consider purchasing the small Piccadilly Cafeteria located on Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge. At the time, Hamilton was living in Kansas City, where he was serving as general manager of The Forum, a Midwestern cafeteria chain. … Hamilton bought the Piccadilly from the original owner, Thomas J. Costas, for $65,000. Hamilton and Costas closed the sale on February 1, 1944."
Wikipedia writes about Piccadillly's expansion in 1998 with the purchase of Morrison's Cafeterias. This was followed in by 2003 with a filing for bankruptcy, a bailout, and another bankruptcy in 2012 followed by another purchase.
Today (2023), the company is still in business, and there are more than 30 locations in the South, primarily in Louisiana, and also in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia.
After puzzling over this pattern for more than 15 years, the ID for this entry came from the Facebook group Old Images of Baton Rouge, with many, many members adding their childhood memories of eating from the Satellite Plates.
The definitive ID comes from the 1975 photo, shown above, which is a photo op staged in the Katy Freeway Piccadilly Cafeteria for Houston Chronicle photographer Tom Colburn of an adorable little girl – a Vietnamese war orphan newly arrived in the United States – with an older American girl. The Asian child is beautifully posed with fork in hand, and focused on a plate containing the telltale squared-off edges of meat loaf, mashed potatoes and greens, served Ta-Da! on a Satellite Plate!
Next to the child is a coupe-rimmed shallow bowl with the border design but no space-related images in the well. This leaves open the possibility that at least at one Piccadilly, this border pattern (name unknown) was also used as regular service china.
Print ads from 1966, 1979, and 1980 show numerous mentions of the child's Satellite Plate featured at the cafeteria, where for 42 cents, then $1.25 and finally $1.30, a "pre-teen child could have a meat or fish and two vegetables "served on a specially designed compartment plate." … "Wouldn't YOUR junior astronaut like to try one?"
An Oct. 25, 1979, ad in the Longview News-Journal described it as a "Satellite Plate for Junior Astronauts – Specially Designed Compartment Plate."
In addition to the child-sized grill plate with black border design with center-of-the-well images of spaceship, astronaut, and the planets revolving around the sun, there is a variation with a mint green airbrushed border, also shown above. It is not known who the customer was for the latter plate and whether or not it was a stock pattern, but it is assumed that it was not used by Piccadilly.
Old Images of Baton Rouge Facebook page
Wikimedia.org photo by Wtylerallen
Lake Charles American Press, Nov. 12, 1977, page 30
Waco Times-Herald, April 1, 1966
Longview News-Journal, October 25, 1979
For more information:
Piccadilly Cafeteria 2, by McNicol China
ID: Laura Gough
Research: Roland Burritt
Research: Ed Babcock
Satellite grill plate photos contributed by Susan Phillips
R. Leontiev: scan of original 1975 photo by photographer Tom Colburn for the Houston Chronical (shared for educational purposes only)
Green/White photo contributed by etsy seller CattleDogModern