Saturday, July 7, 2018

Nicknames for Downtown Chicago Restaurant Areas by Types Beginning in the Gay 1890s.

Bob's Quick Lunch at 295½ West Van Buren Street at Clark Street in downtown Chicago in 1904. (Address before the 1909 Chicago Street Renumbering project.)
Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, restaurants grouped together in downtown (the Loop) Chicago. The reason is easy to understand. Groups of the same kind of restaurants attracted flocks of lunch customers who knew they would likely find something they wanted to eat at lunchtime. 

Chain restaurants were becoming common, and lesser-known restaurants were eager to locate near successful eating establishments to catch their overflow. It was also used as a marketing ploy as City officials nicknamed streets of similar-style restaurants a "row" to help boost the local economy.

Restaurant Row: Randolph Street where there were 39 busy full-service restaurants within a six-block stretch. Many restaurants had full-service bars, a few with a Sommelier (Wine Stewart) especially for dinner service.
Cafeteria Row: Wabash Avenue had the largest number of self-service restaurants in the world. 
Toothpick Row: Clark Street had lots of lunchroom businesses including bars and taverns serving sandwiches and liquor.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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