ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - What keeps us coming back to the restaurants? In some cases, it's the amazing food or the atmosphere. Maybe it's a delightful server.
I suspect it's really more than just the food. Perhaps it's more about a feeling of homeyness that you can't find at any other restaurant. It's not something you can eat, but it's critical to success.
That's how it feels inside The White Spot on 4th Ave. in Downtown Anchorage. Tuck up at the counter and watch your food be cooked by Frank.
Order the halibut sandwich and onion rings.
"People come all the time for the halibut sandwich," owner Christy Dodds said, "that's what we're really famous for."
Dodds and her husband are the fifth owners.
Dodds is still trying to piece together the history of the restaurant, but she does know it was started by Mr. White.
"I know he had the restaurant at least in '46 possibly as far back as '41, or earlier," Dodds said.
She and her husband had been toying with the idea of buying a restaurant when The White Spot came up for sale about four years ago.
"We bought it on a whim," Dodds said. "Partly because of the history. It is possibly the longest-running restaurant in Anchorage, so it just seemed like kind of a little piece of Alaska history."
There are a lot of old restaurants in Anchorage that were here before statehood.
Club Paris started in the late 1950s. Its website says its original building was erected in 1937.
Arctic Roadrunner started in 1964 and has been serving cheeseburgers ever since.
Tastee Freeze is 60 and Peggy's Cafe is 70-plus. Girdwood's Double Musky was built in 1962 as a ski bar and at the time the food was served on picnic tables. On the 10th floor of the Hotel Captain Cook is the Crow's Nest with its views as notable as its food. The hotel opened for guests in 1965 after the 1964 earthquake. Then, there's Benny's Food Wagon, which opened in 1969. Olivia Barajas is the owner now. She says the carne asada is still the most popular dish.
George Brown and his wife Peggy started Lucky Wishbone in 1955.
Even after his death, it's such an Anchorage tradition that on election nights you'll find politicians awaiting poll results while nervously eating fried chicken and hot fries sitting resting on a paper-lined basket. (If they're feeling confident expect them to order a milkshake.)
And, in Mountain View, there's Jamicos Pizzaria Restaurant-- it's been around for 55 years.
"The people that owned it, and still own it to this day, have a vision for the people of Mountain View, to come and have a great place to have great food and to hang out," Teresa Ingram with Jamicos said.
Jamicos is also a famous hangout for Anchorage Police officers grabbing dinner.
"They can sit and talk and discuss things," Ingram said, "and it's very private, very private."
Ingram and many other restaurant owners we spoke with say their success, and longevity, comes from being part of their customer's lives.
"It's really important to stay with your family," Ingram said.