Submitted by liz on Wed, 2014-11-12 11:42
Note: The Newberry Library holds the personal papers of author John Drury.
THE TRIANGLE, West Randolph Street
"Yesterday," reads the Triangle menu, describing its oysters, "as the sun was sinking in the west, these beautiful creatures were frolicking on the sandy bottom of Delaware Bay, unmindful of the danger that lurked overhead. Gaiety filled their little hearts. But suddenly this scene of joy was transformed into one of desolation, for astute Man hurriedly plucked them and sent them on to us, so that today you may revel in their glorious freshness and 'tang' of the sea . . . still scenting of the azure blue waters."
The baked potato is lauded thus: "From Idaho, a Land of Treasure. Ages ago great Volcanoes roared and to-day among their old lava beds in Idaho they grow these Magnificent Gorgeous Beauties. Hot, genuine, mealy, Idaho baked potato, with plenty of butter, for only 20 cents. Here's Health for You."
You are reading excerpts from a menu of one of the most original and typically American restaurants in the country. You are in the House that Ham built. You are about to taste the most succulent hot roast sugar-cured ham you've ever eaten, or the biggest and most savory of baked Idaho potatoes, or the finest and largest order of good old-fashioned American strawberry shortcake in all the length and breadth of the land. In other words, you are in the midst of one of the most novel and unique epicurean adventures that has ever befallen you.
If you think we have been carried off our feet by the appetite-provoking advertising of this house, and are indulging in redundant and idle boasts, you are mistaken. The Triangle has practically revolutionized restaurant management in Chicago by the unique advertising methods it employs to attract patrons to its counters and tables. Other popular-priced lunch rooms have begun to copy the Triangle style. The walls of this Randolph Street Triangle look like nothing so much as the sideshow of a circus — loud with gay and colorful placards heralding in the most flowery and poetic of phrases the merits of its foods. And the interesting part about it all is that these signs tell the truth. Else how could D. L. Toflfenetti build a chain of six Triangle restaurants in the Loop within the last ten years, with the present Randolph Street house as the latest and most-up-to-date of the six?
Standing on the site of the former King Joy Lo chop suey restaurant, an old landmark of the Rialto, the Triangle is as much a showplace as any of the theatres that surround it — and as entertaining and diverting. Observe the striking black marble facade, done in modernistic style and rising two stories high like an inverted U, and the ever-changing play of colored lights across its sweep. It is one of the most outstanding buildings on Randolph Street.
But go inside. See the crowded counters and tables; observe dignified judges, city officials, and theatrical people mingling with stenographers and office boys and family groups; see the dashing white-capped carver slicing a huge appetizing-looking roast beef high up on a dais at the front of the restaurant; the big colorful signs, dictated by Mr. Toffenetti himself, that make your mouth water; the girls making strawberry shortcake right before you in the window; the snappy and intelligent waitresses in their smart white frocks; the cooks making salads and dressings before the gaze of all; and Mr. Toffenetti himself moving about, picking up a plate here, helping a waitress there, and welcoming his many friends. All is lively, clean, wholesome, colorful, in-the-open, and American — yes, clatter of dishes and all — about the Triangle.
The big day during the Triangle year is the annual opening in the spring of the old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake Jubilee — an event that has become as important in the life of the Loop as the annual Autumn Exhibition of Fashion in Marshall Field's windows. Indeed, the Triangle, which started as a little restaurant at the triangular corner (this is the origin of its name) of Broadway, Sheridan Road, and Montrose Avenue, in the uptown district, over fifteen years ago, has become as much an institution in Chicago as is Marshall Field & Company. Therefore, you should not miss it. It is especially interesting to visitors from foreign countries. It is open all night and the prices are scandalously reasonable.
Another of the chain of Triangle restaurants is located at 6 South Clark Street.
Maitre d'hotel: Dario L. Toffenetti