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#1
Posted September 13th 2008, 10:29am
I just discovered this site. Very interesting. I always enjoy learning about new facets of life, and new segments of society, and I will very likely be visiting here more often.

Thought many of you might be interested in viewing postcards of old Chicago restaurants. I have had my Chicago postcard history site up for about a year. It features nearly 4,000 postcards of Chicago, nearly all show buildings before 1950. There are over 250 restaurant postcards included.

My website is totally non-commercial, no ads, just lots of history! It was a labor of love for Chicago!! Hope you enjoy it!!
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#2
Posted September 13th 2008, 10:41am
http://www.chicagopc.info/, specifically http://www.chicagopc.info/restaurants.htm.

Cool site!

I look forward to your contributions to discussions here at LTHForum.

Cheers,

Aaron
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#3
Posted September 13th 2008, 7:48pm
Aaron Deacon wrote:Cool site!

I look forward to your contributions to discussions here at LTHForum.

Ditto. And how long have you been collecting these images? Do you happen to have an image of Mike Fish (Italian Restaurant)?
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#4
Posted September 13th 2008, 10:12pm
What a treasure!
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#5
Posted September 13th 2008, 10:50pm
Thanks for the compliments. I don't want to pass myself off as an expert on Chicago, though. I am more an expert on Chicago postcards, and believe me, there is a difference.

I have been collecting about 10 years. Add to that being in computers long enough for my first computer to have been an Atari, and it was natural that I would probably have a website.

I collect lots of things, but Chicago postcards are the smallest items and the biggest collection!

I have never seen a postcard of Mike Fish Restaurant, but that doesnt mean there isn't one. I collect only cards of businesses and buildings pre-1950, so if it is newer than that I won't have it.

All my cards are on my website, so if you don't see it there, I don't have it yet.

Many of my restaurant cards do have more info on the back, including owners, managers, etc., so if you have any questions about a card you see on my site, feel free to ask if there is more info available.

I'm not sure how often I will be on this site, so the best way to reach me is by email - chicago@bnin.net. I will try to check in once a week or so.

Thanks again!
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#6
Posted September 14th 2008, 9:13pm
In addition to the great shots of the restaurants, the thing that's really fascinating to me about these is that restaurants were considered to be "postcard worthy" back in the day. I can think of a couple of potential explanations (and perhaps npchicago and others can chime in on this as well). Perhaps postcards were a bigger deal (pre-TV (and, obviously, internet) and at a time when a camera was not affordable for everyday people, I'm sure postcards were a key way to capture memories/experiences and share them with others) and thus a lot of things were considered to be postcard worthy that we would not see on postcards today (the Postcard Glut Theory). Or perhaps restaurants were rarer and thus more worthy of being the subject matter of postcards (the Restaurant Rarity Theory). Or maybe some combination of the two?
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#7
Posted September 14th 2008, 9:24pm
They wouldn't have been sold like the postcards at tourist attractions. They would have been given out free at the establishments, most likely. Chicago had a huge tourist traffic at that time-- businessmen and salesmen from all over the country would come here by train to see the new lines from manufacturers at the Merchandise Mart, and otherwise partake of the joys of that toddling town, as evidenced by the fact that every train station once had an adjoining vice district-- and so people would send home a free postcard touting the sophisticated joint they'd just been to in the big city, and thus advertise the place to the next bunch of customers from Moline or Omaha.
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#8
Posted September 15th 2008, 4:54pm
I agree with Mike G that they were probably given out, or maybe sold at the establishment. I like to read the backs almost as much as look at the fronts, and many times you will see that someone has sent the card to a friend, with the messsage " ate here last night", or something similar.

Also, eating out was a big deal to many people back then, and a penny postcard was a perfect way to remember it.

I have a few cards from what appear to be traveling salesmen, who used cards to keep their families connected with what they were doing and the sights they saw.

Seems like we have lost something, with the email and text message!
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#9
Posted September 15th 2008, 10:14pm
Lots of places still have free postcards touting the restaurants. My kids take bunches.

Some great stuff on there. Sure, there are the old, recognizable mega-restaurants (mostly German and recently departed, like Berghoff and Golden Ox), but I like seeing some of the "what are they now" places. Old Heidelberg was Ronny's, then a comedy venue, now Argo Tea, no? Sky Ride is, well, Sky Ride (Tap) now. Seems like even back then they probably gilded the lilly in depicting the interior. Some very cool lounges/bars depicted. But my favorite has to be Truckdriver's Social Club. Ironic or not?
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#10
Posted September 16th 2008, 12:37am
I am knocked out by this memory-sparking collection of Chicagoiana. I have a dim childhood memory of maybe 10% (or less) of these restaurants and other local sites, and it is honestly breathtaking to see them again. I got a little misty over the Riverview scenes, as, I'm sure, would most lifelong Chicagoans. Bravo. Beautiful stuff.
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#11
Posted September 23rd 2008, 4:38pm
Finally checked back in!

Re the numerous old postcards: A couple more reasons that postcards were used a lot. The mail used to be postmarked when it left, and also when and where it arrived. Just the other day I got one that had left Chicago at 7:30 AM, and was in central Michigan by 12:30 PM that afternoon! I also have some that were sent from one side of Chicago in the Am, making an appointment to meet someone later in the afternoon at the other side of town. Oh for mail service like that again.

With postcards being so cheap, it was fast and much cheaper than using a phone. I recall reading somewhere that in the early days, long distance calls were a couple dollars a minute!

I also agree with Matt that cameras were not in everyone's pocket like they are now. We have five kids, and there are at least 9 or 10 operating cameras in the house. At least we don't have to pay for prints and slides any more!

If I could walk to a store where they had penny postcards, I would use them too.

There also used to be postcard clubs where a group of people sent cards of establishments from their own city to others in the club, in return for the same. That seems like fun at 2 cents total for the card and postage!
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#12
Posted September 26th 2008, 4:27pm
If anyone is interested, I just uploaded the following restaurant postcards to my website.

Bennerts Cafe
Chez Paree Lounge
Club El Bianco
Gus English Room Restaurant
Melrose Grill - German Casino
North American Restaurant
Red Star Inn
Schwaben Stube Restaurant
Siebens Bier Stube Restaurant
The Surrey Restaurant
Tip Top Inn, Charles Dickens Corner

Enjoy!!
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#13
Posted October 29th 2008, 9:45am
To All,

I am writing a book on Chicago's Famous Restaurants. This site has been helpful in the research process. I would love to hear any ideas anyone has. I am also looking for photographs, post cards etc that I can use in the book.

Please send all responses to:
chicagosfamousrestaurants@gmail.com
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#14
Posted December 13th 2008, 3:42pm
:( Sorry folks, I messed up! I realized this week that I have all my restaurants that were in hotels, filed with the hotels. I took a look, and found that I have postcards featuring restaurants, dining rooms, etc. in a few other categories on my website as well! Maybe you have already found them, but just in case you didn't, here they are, along with some of the amounts of cards I have in those sections.

Entertainment - Clubs
Entertainment - Coliseum
Entertainment - Music/Dancing 14 cards
Hotels A-F - 65 cards
Hotels G-O - 45 cards
Hotels P-Z - 50 cards
Retail A-M - 10 cards (mostly Marshall Fields)

Hope you enjoy all these new ones! By the way, I may be adding cards in the future featuring restaurants newer than 1950. Freestanding restaurants will be in the Restaurant section, in alphabetical order at the end of the older section. I plan to file newer hotel restaurants in the Hotel sections. Will let you know if I change my mind!
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#15
Posted December 16th 2008, 4:10pm
I recently stumbled across the Los Angeles Public Library's menu collection, which includes many digitized and available online.

Here's a link to a search for Chicago, restricted only to menus that they have scanned.

They have a 1946 menu from Ong Lok Yun, a 1952 menu from Riccardo, as well as the Pump Room, the Edgewater Beach Hotel, and more...
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"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#16
Posted December 16th 2008, 5:35pm
Lo and behold, Ong Lok Yun has an egg foo young sandwich listed on the last page of the menu - did Chicago invent the infamous St. Paul sandwich?
Last edited by Habibi on December 16th 2008, 7:27pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#17
Posted December 16th 2008, 5:48pm
germuska wrote:Here's a link to a search for Chicago, restricted only to menus that they have scanned.


Thanks. I especially liked the one from the Mayflower Coffee Shop. They had a doughnut making machine in the window that always fascinated me as a child.
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#18
Posted December 17th 2008, 2:21am
NB: Riccardo's has both chicken and shrimp Vesuvio.
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#19
Posted December 17th 2008, 8:01am
And sterilized plates!
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#20
Posted December 27th 2008, 8:25pm
npchicago wrote:Thought many of you might be interested in viewing postcards of old Chicago restaurants. I have had my Chicago postcard history site up for about a year.

Let me add my belated thanks for your great website. I've had it bookmarked since its early days.

Habibi wrote:Lo and behold, Ong Lok Yun has an egg foo young sandwich listed on the last page of the menu - did Chicago invent the infamous St. Paul sandwich?

Very interesting. It's becoming clear to me this sandwich had (or has?) a wider distribution (including Minnesota) than most people from St Louis would have us believe.

JeffB wrote:NB: Riccardo's has both chicken and shrimp Vesuvio.

I would have guessed that the tendency toward Vesuvio-ing everything began much later. I suppose it just goes to show how well established Chicken Vesuvio was by the early '50s.
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#21
Posted January 12th 2009, 1:28pm
This is on-topic, but not on the previous thread exactly. A group of us Boomers were discussing restaurants that are no more, and I brought up a Deli that had multiple locations in the Loop, but no one could come up with the name! Time frame is 70's to early 80's.

The location I used to go to was on Dearborn, West side of the street, around Adams/Monroe. Others remembered one on State also. They had great sandwiches, all with names.

If anyone remembers it, a reply would be greatly appreciated.

BTW - the Postcards brought back many great memories of places I've been or heard of as a kid.
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#22
Posted January 12th 2009, 1:55pm
Caxyfan wrote:This is on-topic, but not on the previous thread exactly. A group of us Boomers were discussing restaurants that are no more, and I brought up a Deli that had multiple locations in the Loop, but no one could come up with the name! Time frame is 70's to early 80's.

The location I used to go to was on Dearborn, West side of the street, around Adams/Monroe. Others remembered one on State also. They had great sandwiches, all with names.

If anyone remembers it, a reply would be greatly appreciated.

BTW - the Postcards brought back many great memories of places I've been or heard of as a kid.


Bob Elfman's?
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#23
Posted January 12th 2009, 2:25pm
That's what my friend Marty said, but I don't think that's right, but, who knows, my memory ain't what it used to be!
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#24
Posted January 12th 2009, 4:45pm
How about Mort's?
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#25
Posted January 12th 2009, 5:24pm
Could be - thought it had 2 names though
thanks for trying to come up with it - doesn't this stuff drive you crazy!
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#26
Posted January 12th 2009, 8:16pm
Caxyfan wrote:I brought up a Deli that had multiple locations in the Loop, but no one could come up with the name! Time frame is 70's to early 80's. The location I used to go to was on Dearborn, West side of the street, around Adams/Monroe. Others remembered one on State also.

Caxyfan wrote:. . . thought it had 2 names though

Sounds like Mahzel Deli at 132 S Dearborn (west side, between Adams & Monroe). Around 1980 the owners moved to 67 E Adams (a little east of State) and renamed it Bev 'n' Bob's Deli.

Artie wrote:Bob Elfman's?

That was one of my first thoughts too. Bob Elfman's Sandwich Shop, "Where Corned Beef is King," was at 179 N State, just north of the Chicago Theater, from 1933 to 1985. At various times there were other branches in the Loop and even one in the old Parkway Hotel on Lincoln Park West.
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#27
Posted January 13th 2009, 12:10pm
RENE -
Just got back online; you got it. The location is right and I remember that they had sandwiches named for Bob and Bev also.
Thanx for the info!
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#28
Posted January 16th 2009, 11:20am
Hi, everybody!

Just loaded some new restaurant cards on the website.

I have also created a special section, in response to those who like to look at restaurants that may not be as old as most on my site, but are still loved, even though they may be gone (or not!). You will find these newer chrome cards at the end of the older regular restaurants. It is in alphabetical order.

Hope you like it.

Here is a list of cards I added today. Some are older and some newer.

Armando’s Restaurant
Clover Bar
Heidelberger Fass Restaurant
La Hacienda Del Sol Restaurant
Marx Beer Tunnel (See Also with Grant Hotel)
Ranch Restaurant, Saddle Bar
Scot’s Restaurant & Lounge
Tai Dong Restaurant
The Pit Restaurant
The Cart Restaurant
Treffpunkt Restaurant & Lounge

Due to having my hours cut back at work temporarily, I won't be buying as many postcards for a bit, but will still do what I can.
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#29
Posted January 16th 2009, 11:38am
npchicago wrote:The Cart Restaurant


Thanks for posting this. The Cart was in my Dad's hotel and was a forerunner to Lawry's (in Chicago) in terms of serving prime rib cut to order from a silver cart. I had many meals in this restaurant as a little kid, learning my manners. It was The Cart that introduced me to the wonders of prime rib, twin lobster tails, twice baked potatoes and creamed spinach.
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#30
Posted January 16th 2009, 4:21pm
stevez wrote:
npchicago wrote:The Cart Restaurant


Thanks for posting this. The Cart was in my Dad's hotel and was a forerunner to Lawry's (in Chicago) in terms of serving prime rib cut to order from a silver cart. I had many meals in this restaurant as a little kid, learning my manners. It was The Cart that introduced me to the wonders of prime rib, twin lobster tails, twice baked potatoes and creamed spinach.

I remember The Cart fondly as well. When I was about 13, I accompanied my best friend's family there on a number of occasions. I think it was a favorite place of her Dad's. I was on my best, most polite behavior, also having learned my manners at restaurants!
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