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Lost Tea Rooms of Downtown Cincinnati: Reflections & Recipes

Lost Tea Rooms of Downtown Cincinnati: Reflections & Recipes

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Lost Tea Rooms of Downtown Cincinnati: Reflections & Recipes

Länge:
304 Seiten
2 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 7, 2016
ISBN:
9781439658529
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

It was a different time. Ladies wore gloves, hats and nice attire to luncheons at the Woman's Exchange.


Shillito's provided a cosmopolitan environment for its patrons, while Mullane's was the perfect place to sip and socialize. The popular Good Morning Show radio program hosted by charming Bob Braun, and later Nick Clooney, was broadcast from McAlpin's Tea Room. Women gathered at Pogue's and Mabley & Carew tea rooms to celebrate birthdays, as well as wedding and baby showers, over dainty tea sandwiches. Author Cynthia Kuhn Beischel brings the Queen City's bygone downtown tea rooms back to life and shares more than one hundred beloved recipes.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 7, 2016
ISBN:
9781439658529
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Cincinnati native Cynthia Kuhn Beischel is the co-author or author of three books: Virginia Bakery Remembered, From Eulogy to Joy and Discover the Past. Cynthia is a co-founder and committee member of the Glendale Community Library, a board member of Glendale's Harry Whiting Brown Community Center and a member of the Glendale Heritage Preservation Association.

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Lost Tea Rooms of Downtown Cincinnati - Cynthia Kuhn Beischel

rooms!

1

Painting a Picture of Bygone Tea Rooms

Up until the late 1960s, hosting an afternoon tea, known as an at home during earlier years, was how a sophisticated woman entertained her lady friends. Her guests were all dressed up, and she served them with her fancy tea service. Little tea sandwiches, pastries and cookies were the appropriate menu items of the day.

The beautifully appointed downtown tea rooms, with tables covered in white cloths and adorned with fresh flowers, small bowls of sugar cubes with tongs, heavy silverware and nice china, were certainly a part of that whole culture. So, too, were the dainty sandwiches (crusts cut off) of cream cheese and cucumber slices with fruit placed alongside and hot dishes brought out on plates covered with silver and, in some cases, white china domes to keep them warm. The difference was that anyone who wished to enjoy that pleasure had to be able to go and pay to have a tea experience. And for many ladies, the tea rooms became the perfect spot to celebrate birthdays, wedding and baby showers, bridge parties and even business meetings.

In certain social milieus, dressing in a hat and gloves and going downtown to the tea rooms was an integral part of a girl’s upbringing, a rite of passage of sorts. The only question was what the destination would be. For many interviewees, the topic and questions revived great memories not only of the era but also of their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. The tea rooms provided an environment that united generations. Sharing lunch and shopping together was when they communicated. During this special one-on-one time, mothers and daughters talked about things not comfortably discussed in front of brothers or fathers. These outings provided a chance for young girls to feel grown up and practice the lady training that they received at home and, for others, the lessons they had learned in the etiquette classes offered at Shillito’s and McAlpin’s. How to sit properly with your legs crossed at the ankles and how to sit up straight and keep elbows off the table were essential teachings. A sign of proper social etiquette was also to know the use of the different silverware pieces and how to spoon your soup in the bowl away from you, as well as the importance of chewing with one’s mouth closed. Knowing how to say thank you when the waitress brought out your dish and how to let her know if the food was good was also significant. Benefits of the finishing school classes went beyond the dining room. Girls, usually between twelve and fourteen years of age, learned how to properly introduce people (first announcing the older person to the younger as an act of respect), how to apply and wear makeup and jewelry, how to pair colors and the finer points of fashion. The idea behind such instruction was that teaching appropriate behaviors and manners would benefit girls when they went out into society and the working world.

For other women, remembering their weekly rendezvous brought back fine memories about their girlfriends. The primary sentiment was that women considered such an occasion as a cheerful, sometimes celebratory, female event, a highlight of the week that was nothing like grabbing a quick bite to eat while running errands. The tea room experience was much more than that. An outing to town was considered special and important, a definite pleasure to be enjoyed.

Over time, the department store tea rooms became the venue for fashion shows in which models walked elegantly, showing off the current trends in clothing. Most stores had a group of models (usually young women, though occasionally older ladies) who worked primarily on weekdays during the lunch crowd and occasionally in the evening or on weekends. Sometimes, the outfits were presented as runway productions with a commentator on a staged area, culminating with bridal or formal wear, but more often shown informally with models walking through the room and stopping to interact with customers. The lovely models were paired, each working one side of the room and then switching to the other, casually approaching individual tables, sometimes with a tantalizing twirl, and talking about what they were wearing. Through the mid-1960s, models were required to wear hats and gloves. With tags carefully hidden, they answered any questions the customers might have about the garment, including the cost; allowed them to feel the fabric if desired; and then told them where in the store they could find the item. They provided just enough to impress, intrigue and induce an I have to have that! purchase.

Fashion shows were frequent during department store tea room luncheons—this one took place in McAlpin’s Tea Room. Photo provided courtesy of the Gene Planck family. McAlpin’s is a trademark of Dillard’s Inc. The author thanks Dillard’s for granting permission to use the McAlpin’s name as well as the image included here.

The restaurants’ staff played a huge part in making the tea rooms as popular as they were as well. Outfitted in their solid color uniform dresses laundered by the store, crisply starched white aprons with pocket handkerchiefs and sometimes little caps on their heads, the waitresses were known to be very friendly and polite and to provide superlative service. The dining rooms that had waiters required them to dress in white coats and bow ties. The waitresses were often old guard who remembered names and, in many instances, the preferred menu items of frequent and loyal customers. Customers who were regulars had their favorite waitresses and many times asked the elegant hostesses to be seated at one of their tables. In a similar fashion, like a family working together every day, a relaxed friendliness and intimacy developed among the people who were employed in the restaurants.

Waitresses at Shillito’s in the 1940s had fifteen-minute morning meetings every day, during which they studied and memorized that day’s menu. During their shifts, they collected and turned in comments (good and bad) that they’d heard during the day. The remarks were reviewed and acted upon accordingly by management. These waitresses, known as the Six-Minute Squad, exemplified Shillito service by serving meals in six minutes. According to an article in the October 16, 1940 issue of the Shillito Enthusiast, there was actually a time clock in the kitchen where they punched their order slips as they entered the kitchen and again when the food came out. And, as the readers were assured, "Each tray as it comes out is checked so that it’s a sure thing your meal will be placed in front of you just as you ordered and looking its most

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