Since its grand opening in 1953, Pages patrons could stand in line and ponder their lunch or breakfast choice while viewing a rotating display of options on a TV screen. This screen continues to be a fixture of Pages to this very day.
“We were pioneers then,” cafe founder Ansel Whitmore reminisced, “We had the black and white TV set first, and there was some resistance when we switched to the color monitor, but the basic concept was always the same… customers were never overwhelmed by the entire Pages menu all at once. Instead, they could see what kind of juices were available, wait 10 seconds for the next screen to pop up, then see thier options in terms of English muffins and bagels, and so on!
“In the good old days,” Whitmore continued, “regular customers started bringing in their own pads of paper and pens to write down prices of items so they could calculate their total purchase cost without having to have a photographic memory. Newcomers would use the little golf pencils and order sheets we provided — are those still there? — and would use those for making the same calculations. This was before calculators. It used to be that a calculator was so large it would take up an entire room. Now everyone can just whip out his cell phone and use the calculator on that. Yes, some things have changed, but one thing has always stayed the same at Pages — we always had that neat little rotating menu on a TV screen.”
Sadly for many, that trademark rotating menu may soon be scrapped in favor of the new “blackboard” model becoming fashionable among Pages cafe competitors.
“Pages cafe is losing business to new, trendy coffee shops in Syracuse such as Recess Roastery on Harvard St. and Strong Hearts Cafe on East Genessee. We’ve done some benchmarking and, eliminating all other extraneous variables, found that these cafes have one thing we lack — a blackboard hung over the counter with menu items written in chalk,” explained marketing executive Blake Bradford,
“Strong Hearts and Recess are following the greater trend of ‘going green’, which in this case entails the discontinuation of traditional energy sapping electronic menus. If we want to regain an environmentally sustainable competitive advantage, we (Pages) must follow suit with an energy saving slate menu of our own.”
“I’m just curous to know,” inquired cafe employee and iSchool graduate student Saif Chopra, “How this proposed alteration will affect me as an employee of the Pages. What if we change our prices or something? Will I have to get up on a stepstool and manually erase and write in new prices for the whole of the menu? And what will be the advantage of this, a few more sorority girls in leggings and Ugg boots will be drawn to the cafe to give me dirty looks and some insincere words of gratitude as I pass them their sobering mugs of morning coffee? What do these silly girls know about going green, anyway? I should take them to visit a third-world country and they’ll see what ‘going green’ really means!!”
Two members of the local Little League team won a contest when they came up with the name “Pages” back in 1953. As a prize for their creativity, they each received a shiny red apple.
“I guess a lot has changed since then,” sighed Ansel Whitmore.