Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Childs Restaurant, c. 1925
This is not only a fabulous interior snapshot of an old New York City restaurant -- it allows us to eavesdrop on someone who worked in restaurants geared toward working people. Childs, one of the first national dining chains, pioneered low-cost meals in a clean place -- not a greasy spoon. Pancakes were flipped in the front window.
"Where I am working now," the sender writes on the front. On the reverse, she continues: "This will give you a idea of a N.Y. lunch room. Just like Wolfes only larger." I'm assuming it is a woman writing, but it could be a man. The recipient is Miss Rosetta Shillau in Providence, R.I. care of Haydens Restaurant.
According to Wikipedia, Childs opened its first restaurant in 1889, and was a pioneer in design, service, sanitation and labor relations -- it had an employee stock ownership program in the 1920s. One of the founding Childs brothers imposed his vegetarian diet on customers around 1927, and it weakened the business. By the 1930s, new owners restored meat to the chain, which went through further contractions until the restaurants were subsumed into a new conglomerate company that includes Dunkin Donuts and other restaurants.