McGarvey's, Vermilion, Ohio, 1930s
Ahoy landlubbers! This ship’s captain – a nattily dressed parrot – is using a telescope to scan the horizon for a place to eat and spies McGarvey’s restaurant.
The witty 1930s menu cover belonged to the landmark, nautically-themed McGarvey’s situated in Vermilion, Ohio. It was the only boat drive-in on the Great Lakes.
Its most famous owner was the colorful and flamboyant Eddie Solomon who would greet every customer who walked through the door, wearing his trademark Cap’n Eddie shirt with an anchor emblem on one pocket.
“Give people great service and great food. That’s the sizzle that sells the steak,” he often said.
The McGarvey’s legend dates back to 1929 when Charlie Helfrich operated a boat rental business and also Helfrich’s restaurant, famous for its hot fish sandwiches.
When Helfrich died in 1934, his wife took over the business for two years and then sold it to Charlie McGarvey, who renamed the restaurant after himself.
In 1945, the restaurant was sold to businessmen Frank Kelsey and Charlie Solomon – Cap’n Eddie was his son.
At the height of the restaurant’s popularity - in 1975 it expanded from 200 to 400 seats – it employed 140 cooks, waitresses, cashiers, dishwashers and bussing staff and 2,000 people would eat there on Mother’s Day alone. Takings were $2.5 million a year.
“You could come in in a mink coat or Bermuda shorts. Everyone was welcome,” said the owner.
By 1990, Cap’n Eddie was ready to retire and the restaurant was sold. It changed hands several times until the Vermilion Port Authority bought it and auctioned the contents to develop the site as part of a new marina.
Thanks to morningjournal.com for this information.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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