"Cafeteria" & "One-arm lunch" and John R. Thompson
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Jul 13 05:04:07 UTC 2006
I was hoping that the digitized Chicago Tribune and other sources would help
reveal the origin of the "cafeteria." Did John R. Thompson coin or
popularize the name in 1893 Chicago? Thompson's story is largely untold on the web.
I'm also looking at "one arm joint/lunch," but HDAS merely repeats OED. Did
that term come from Chicago or New York?
one-arm joint U.S., a cheap restaurant or café where the seats have one arm
wide enough to hold a plate of food, etc. one-arm lunch U.S. = one-arm
joint. one-arm lunch room U.S. = one-arm joint.
1915 N.Y. World Mag. 9 May 14 *One arm joint, a chair dairy lunch. 1990
N.Y. Times (Nexis) 1 Sept. I. 25/4 He said he had sampled 1,750 of the 5,595
restaurants listed. ‘I don't monkey with one-arm joints or luncheonettes’, he
1922 N.Y. Times Mag. 24 Dec. 8/1 They blinked their windowed eyes on a
passing world that rushed into *one-arm lunches and cafeterias. 1988 New Yorker
1 Aug. 40/2 As more self-service restaurants adopted individual sidearm
tables..they were nicknamed ‘one-arm lunches’.
1912 _M. NICHOLSON_
(http://dictionary.oed.com/help/bib/oed2-n.html#m-nicholson) Hoosier Chron. 297 Everybody's saying ‘Stop, Look, Listen!’..the
white aprons in the *one-arm lunch rooms say it now when you kick on the size of
the buns. 1975 N.Y. Times 14 Apr. 28/5 Its stores are transient, Its stores
aremom-and-pop groceries, one-arm lunchrooms, three-years-to-pay furniture
When it came to catching a bite to eat on the run during the 1920s and
1930s, many Chicagoans relied on the Thompson's chain of cafeterias. By the end of
the 1920s, Thompson's could be found on several central-city street corners,
as well as a number of the city's larger outlying business and industrial
_J. R. Thompson Passes Away; 62 Years Old; J. R. THOMPSON, RICH RESTAURANT
OWNER, IS DEAD Loses Battle with Heart Disease. _
Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Jun 18, 1927. p. 1 (2
John R. Thompson, who rose to great wealth by feeding millions in his
"one-arm chair" restaurants, is dead.
_Buys First Restaurant._
After they had seen the great fair, the pair came toward the downtown
section and wandered into a restaurant on South State street. It wasn't a
pretentious place they selected, nor was the emal particularly delectable, but the
coffee was bad, very bad.
"I can make a better cup of coffee than that myself," said Thompson,
according to the story as he used to relate it.
"Maybe you want to try it," the proprietor rejoined with sarcasm.
"Maybe I do, and I will," said Thompson.
"Buy the place and you can," came the next reply, this time in good nature.
And before the young visitor went out he had agreed to purchase it all, lock,
stock, and barrel, and even the mortgage.
_Start of Vast Business._
he had come with a bit of capital and was open to a business proposition,
Mr. Thompson said, and there was begun the business which in one year ending
recently provided 53,000,000 meals to the populi of American cities.
Not above slinging a napkin over his own arm in those early days and
ministering to the wants of the folk who came into his place, Thompson made a good
business out of a restaurant which many times had been foreclosed out of the
hands of past owners.
In the next year, 1894, Thompson added two restaurants to his business and
began the famous "string." Branching out as swiftly as his capital would
permit, and employing a system by which he took small profits by the quickest of
turnovers, it was not long before the Thompson houses began to dot other
_JOHN R. THOMPSON, RESTAURATEUR, DIES; Great Chain of 'One-Arm Chair'
Cafeterias Brought Fortune of Millions. 70 GROCERIES IN CHICAGO Turned Restaurant
Where Others Had Failed Into a Sucoess-Paid ;1,000,000 for Art. _
Epectal to The New York Times.. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York
, N.Y.: Jun 18, 1927. p. 17 (1 page)
_JOHN R. THOMPSON, RESTAURATEUR, DEAD; Founder of "One-Arm" Chain Won Fame
as Horseman and in Politics. _
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Jun 18, 1927. p. 8 (1 page
_JOHN R. THOMPSON, "ONE-ARM LUNCH" PIONEER IS DEAD_
The Atlanta Constitution (1881-2001). Atlanta, Ga.: Jun 18, 1927. p. 14 (1
_JOHN R. THOMPSON PASSES; Restaurateur Who Won Millions With Arm-chair
Service Loses Long Battle With Death REAPER CALLS J. R. THOMPSON _
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Jun 18, 1927. p.
1 (2 pages)
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