Childs, New York, 1951
The Childs restaurant chain began in 1889 with a single restaurant on Cortlandt Street in lower Manhattan, selling creamed oysters on toast and tongue sandwiches to hungry workers. The Childs brothers, Samuel and William, are credited with developing several restaurant innovations including placing a chef making flapjacks in the window to attract the attention of hungry passers-by. They also tapped into the growing demand for hygienic food preparation and Childs restaurants were white-tiled environments with marble counter tops that gave off an aura of cleanliness. Waitresses, kitted out in starched, tailored uniforms, were briskly efficient in turning tables and customers were not encouraged to linger. Washington Post commentator H. I. Philips described the scene in 1929: " Speed was the keynote. Buttered toast set new height in rapid transit and all previous records held by eggs in flight between kettle and customer were broken…"
At its peak Childs operated 125 restaurants in 33 cities and served over 50,000,000 meals a year. Its motto was "the nation's host from coast to coast." Changing public tastes and competition in the restaurant business led to the demise of the last Childs location, in Times Square, in the late 1950s. This cover features Jill Flapjack.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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