|Bob's Quick Lunch at 295 1/2 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 century, restaurants grouped together in downtown (the Loop) Chicago. The reason is not hard to understand. Groups of the same kind of restaurants attracted flocks of lunch customers who knew they were likely to find something they wanted to eat.
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 restaurants within a six-block stretch.
Cafeteria Row: Wabash Avenue had the largest number of self-service restaurants in the world.
Toothpick Row: Clark Street had lots of lunchroom businesses.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.