Little Bohemia (restaurant)
Submitted by liz on Wed, 2014-11-12 11:41
Note: The Newberry Library holds the personal papers of author John Drury.
With a Capital B
The Little Bohemia is not a restaurant for long-haired artists and short-haired poetesses. It is not a rendezvous of bohemians; no midnight coffee, cigarettes and lofty discussions of Freud are in evidence here. No, you spell the last name of the Little Bohemia with a capital B — which means that it is patronized by persons of Bohemian nationality or descent. And not only these, but individuals of high and low degree from all other races in Chicago come here, for the Little Bohemia is a landmark of the west side, serving food as good as any to be found outside the Loop.
In the old days (Ah, the old days!), the Little Bohemia was known all over town for its imported Pilsner beer. Many were the celebrities, during the summer evenings of long ago, who used to drive out to the west side in a hansom cab and sip those big steins of Pilsner served there. Not the least of them were the late Theodore Thomas, founder of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his companion, Henry Kau, the restaurateur and former wine merchant.
It was logical for Pilsner to be purveyed here, for this place is located in the heart of "Little Pilsen," as Chicago's neighborhood of Bohemian families in the vicinity of West 18th Street and Blue Island Avenue is called. Although prohibition has come, and the Pilsner has gone, the Little Bohemia otherwise remains the same today as it was in the old days — that is, architecturally speaking. You could find no more comfortable and pleasant dining room in town than the one here. It is quietly and attractively done in mahogany woodwork; murals depicting scenes in early Chicago history decorate the walls; and at the rear is a log cabin dining room, filled with antlers and other trophies of the hunt.
People from all parts of Chicago come here nowadays for the excellent food and the convivial atmosphere. Emil Wanatka is a restaurateur of the old school and takes a personal interest in his menu and the customer who reads it. A native of Bohemia, he erves any dish to be found on the menu of the famed Hotel Continental, in Pilsen, Bohemia. These dishes, however, are not greatly different from German dishes, but Emil's roast goose with sauerkraut is something that you'll like especially. Regular American items are served here also and in a way that does credit to Emil's cooks, who are all women. And you'll like the toothsome Bohemian pastries, Emil serves game in season — moose, bear meat and caribou.
Offering good substantial dishes in an appetizing way, the Little Bohemia caters in a large measure to the sporting element of the city. It receives a heavy "play" during the racing season at Hawthorne, since its location on the west side makes it convenient to motorists on their way out to or returning from the Cicero racetrack. Here, come the prize fight followers after any big fisticuff event at the Chicago Stadium, which is not far away. Gene Tunney dined here at the time he fought Jack Dempsey in Chicago. Newspapermen and city officials are frequenters and it is one of the dining places of Mayor Anton Cermak, who was born in Bohemia. Heads of the commission houses in the South Water Commission Market, located in the nearby "Valley," come here also.
The Little Bohemia, Bohemian-American
1722 South Loomis Street
Open for luncheon, dinner, and supper
A la carte only — and reasonable
Maitre d'hotel: Emil Waitatka
1931 - 1931