Stockyards Restaurant Plate

Submitted by Michael Ely April 27th, 2011
Certifikitsch Winner

Out of all of my Western restaurant china collection, this dinner plate from the Stockyards Restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona is by far the most rare. In 1919, Edward A. Tovrea opened his Phoenix packing house with nearly 40,000 head of cattle secured by 200 acres of cattle pens, making it the world’s largest feedlot, and In 1947 the Stockyards Restaurant officially opened and quickly became a favorite gathering place for cattlemen, bankers and politicians. Although cattle fortunes faded in the late 1950’s and pens slowly gave way to urban growth, the popularity of Arizona’s Original Steakhouse remained intact. The steakhouse burned down in a fire in 1953, but was rebuilt and reopened in 1954, and in 2004, and after years of remolding and changes, it was painstakingly restored back to it’s original look and to this day it remains a popular restaurant. This dinner plate dates back to the 1950’s  when the restaurant served meals on heavy duty china featuring cattle designs, china produced by Wellsville China Company of Ohio. Today these china pieces are very, very rare and difficult to find.
Also of interest is the original Tovrea family home in Phoenix, a somewhat bizarre wedding cake looking structure sitting atop a hill surrounded by cactus gardens and often referred to as the Tovrea Castle. It was originally built by an Italian immigrant around 70 years ago for use as a grand hotel, but after the stock market crash in 1929, the land was sold to Edward Tovrea and his wife. The three-tiered castle was built without any plans and many recycled materials were incorporated into the interior. Outside, a 10-acre desert garden was filled with more than 300 varieties of cacti, walkways and two fish ponds. The Tovreas added a large reflecting pool, bird aviary, rose garden, a concrete patio for entertaining and finished it off with peacocks. They lived there until 1969. Then the castle sat abandoned and in disrepair for many, many years as a mysterious curiosity until in 1993 when the City of Phoenix bought it along with 40 acres with plans to restore the castle for use as a visitors center. In 1996 the castle was put on the National Register of Historic Places.

4 Responses to “Stockyards Restaurant Plate”

  1. Allee Willis

    Gorgeous! How many total plates of this genre did you say you have? This may be my favorite.

    I love plates with cows on them. I have a set of Melmac cows and a few china plates with steer heads on them. But this one reigns supreme by far!

    • Michael Ely

      I have enough individual pieces of Western-themed restaurant china to put together four place settings for a dinner (including all the serving pieces such as serving bowls, platters, water pitcher, glasses in leather holders, etc.). As far as individual dinner plates, I have eight all together, none of the same pattern (I had more, but recently sold some as times is hard). As far as this Tovrea / Stockyards pattern, this plate I’m sharing is the only piece I have. BTW, shortly after I won an auction on this plate (many years ago), I was contacted by the Tovrea family themselves offering to buy the plate from me for their family collection at a substantial increase in price (and a personal invite to tour the Tovrea Castle), but I turned them down. I feel sort of bad about that, but I love this plate too much to let it go!

  2. Ginny West

    I have a coffee cup that I could offer. Just discovered this site, so not sure how to do anything on it yet. Contact me if you have interest. Can send (email or txt) photos of it.