Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bit of Sweden Restaurant in San Diego

It's amazing what you can find on the Internet!  An image Bit of Sweden in 1966 from a postcard (wasn't much different when I went there during the 1970's).
Every now and again I think about going to Bit of Sweden with my dad and Grandmother (Margaret Fister Hartley) as a child.  Grandmother's parents Ben and Mary were from Norway, and Grandmother's mysterious maternal grandfather, Gustav Andersson Bergehoin, was from Sweden.

As a kid I never thought to ask Grandmother if this was like the food her mom cooked, although I always assumed it was.

Bit of Sweden featured in a 1953 Food Basket ad (talk about blast from the past).  "Another Food Basket "Super Service" Mary Morgan reveals first of Famous-Restaurant Recipes; This Week: "Bit of Sweden," advertisement, San Diego Union, 22 Jan 1953; ( : accessed 8 Aug 2015).

They sold shoes beginning about 1965!  "Shoe Sales in a Restaurant?," advertisement, San Diego Union, 6 Feb 1970, p. 23; ( : accessed 8 Aug 2015).

I likely ate his cooking when I went to Bit of Sweden.  "Harry Prather Succumbs at 87," obituary, 18 Feb 1980, page 24; ( : accessed 8 Aug 2015).

I wonder if this Chicago Bit of Sweden was from the same people?  So now I wonder, did Grandmother eat there in Chicago?  She did work in Chicago in the 1930's as a secretary, where she met and married my grandfather George Hartley, Jr (1907-1977):
"Favorite Swedish Dishes Provide Changes," San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram, 15 Apr 1936, page 9; ( : accessed 8 Aug 2015).

Image of the Bit of Sweden's entrance from Dan Soderberg's 2007 blog post Little Sweden, where he commented: "I remember when Bit Of Sweden at 2850 El Cajon Blvd. was open for business. I probably ate there. It is now a banquet facility for rent. And sometimes it is also referred to as Vasa Hall or Club."
A shadow of its former self.  On the corner of El Cajon and Utah.  From Google Maps Street View, March 2015.

You can get a similar food experience now at Ikea.  I love this kind of food, and I suspect you can go to Illinois and Minnesota and find places like this now.  Scandinavian smorgasbords are hard to find here in San Diego.

Now I'm really hungry.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.


  1. Rays real name was Ragmar, I remember him very fondly when I trained a couple doors down at College Karate at 60th & El Cajon Blvd in '67, very nice people and very underrated food selection.

  2. There was no financial connection to House of Sweden at El Cajon & Utah Street, just the food, always wondered if Rays Tennis in North Park belonged to Ragmar as he wa very into tennis, I miss him.

  3. Mom and I loved this place when I was growing up. Many wonderful meals and memories in that building. :)