Thursday, February 15, 2018

Restaurant competition in New York City, 1915

Dead Wake by Erik Larson. The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is the subtitle. Page 41. On competition in the restaurant trade in New York as the Lusitania prepared for departure May 1, 1915.
The city seemed untroubled by the war. Broadway—“the Great White Way,” so dubbed for its bright electric lighting—came brilliantly alight and alive each night, as always, although now with unexpected competition. A number of restaurants had begun providing lavish entertainment along with meals, even though they lacked theater licenses. The city was threatening a crackdown on these maverick “cabarets.” One operator, the manager of Reisenweber’s at Eighth Avenue and Columbus Circle, said he would welcome a ban. The competition was wearing him out. His establishment was running a musical revue called “Too Much Mustard,” featuring “a Host of BEAUTIFUL GIRLS,” and a separate “Whirlwind Cabaret” with a quintet of minstrels and a full lunch—table d'hôte—for a buck, with dancing between courses. “The public,” he complained, “is making such ridiculous demands for elaborate entertainment with meals that it is really dangerous for everybody in the restaurant business.”

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