Merchandise Mart Restaurants

Street Address: 
Wells St. and North Bank Way
Chicago, IL

Culled from: Drury, John. Dining in Chicago, New York: The John Day Company, 1931, pp. 87-89.

Note: The Newberry Library holds the personal papers of author John Drury.


10,000 Persons a Day

By all means visit one of the Merchandise Mart restaurants — preferably the Coffee Shop. Try it just for the sake of contrast with the many quiet little restaurants you have been dining in around town. It's a gustatory adventure you'll not easily forget. And don't be afraid your stomach will suffer as a result of this excursion, for the food served in the Merchandise Mart restaurants is of surprisingly good quality considering such a vast output — they have facilities for handling 10,000 persons a day.

The Coffee Shop is the largest of its kind in the world. Now we've been and said it. Smile indulgently if you must at the familiar Chicago boast, "largest in the world;" but we'll wager that you will believe it once you put foot inside this vast, typically American, eating hall. What other coffee shop in the country has over 800 feet of table-high lunch counter and 68 additional feet of soda fountain counter? Smile, too, at this dragging in of figures, but we think they give some idea of the magnitude of the restaurant.

Here is the apex of quantity production in food; here is quick and efficient service; here are all the latest devices and contraptions of the up-to-date restaurant. The great distance from far counters to the main kitchen is overcome by means of a "service" kitchen. The big room is pleasantly decorated, the seats are comfortable, and there is plenty of "elbow room." In short, here Is the modern American coffee shop in its highest state of perfection.

Naturally, the Coffee Shop receives the heaviest "play" of the Merchandise Mart restaurants. What greater convenience could be found in the way of eating for the thousands of workers in the building — which, by the way, is the largest building in the world In point of floor space — than this Coffee Shop on the ground floor, overlooking North Bank Way and the Chicago River? The plate luncheon is the most popular item on the menu, with sandwiches of all kinds running next in demand. The tea room Is on the mezzanine floor above.

For executives and other bigwigs of the wholesale firms in the building, there are two excellent dining rooms — the Governor's Room and the Old English Grill, each seating about 300 persons. The Governor's Room is very formal, luxurious and quiet, while the Old English Grill Is tavern-like, with its oaken walls and beamed ceiling. And don't forget, this Grill Is for men only — and all the waitresses are blonde. What more could a good substantial American go-getting salesman want than to have a pretty blonde waitress serve him his steak and French fried! The Grill offers a special 75 cent club luncheon, as well as an a la carte menu containing Chef Pierre Berard's recommendations—a feature on the menus of all the other restaurants in the building.

And to think that only one hundred years ago there stood on the site of the Merchandise Mart a little old log cabin, Wolf Tavern, purveying food and drink to the villagers of the little settlement across the river.

Merchandise Mart Restaurants, American
Wells Street and North Bank Way

Coffee Shop open from 11 A.M., to 2:30 P.M. Tea Room from 11 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Governor's Room from 11 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. Old English Grill from 11 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.

A la carte, table d'hote, plate lunches — all reasonable




1931 - 1931


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