Hello, everyone and welcome to Let’s Read An Old Menu! This is another in a weekly series looking at restaurant, hotel kitchen, and lunch counter menus from the 19th and 20th centuries. Sometimes things will be familiar, sometimes they’ll be weird. But one thing you can count on is that they’ll almost always have cottage cheese on the menu, and they’ll almost never actually explain what’s in anything.
What’s For Lunch?
Baur’s, in Denver, Colorado, circa 1949. This menu comes courtesy of Reddit user /u/youagreewithit.
Is The Restaurant Still There? If not, what can we find out about it?
Unlike some of our previous articles, I was actually able to find out a lot about Baur’s! In fact, that’s why I ended up writing about it, I didn’t have a specific restaurant in mind at the time until I found out just how much there was to say about this one.
A Denver institution, Baur’s was initially founded by candymaker Otto Baur, who came to Denver in 1867 and opened his own sweetshop three years later. Baur’s is one of several claimants to the title of inventor of the ice cream soda. In 1891 they moved operations to the location we’re discussing today, at 1512 Curtis Street, and shipped around the country. Baur himself died in 1904, leaving the company to his nephew and apprentice, John Joseph Jacobs, who added a restaurant to the confectionery. Today we’re looking at their lunch menu, but hopefully someday we’ll find the dinner menu, as from what I hear it sounds like it may have been amazing– the specialty of the house was deviled crab! Jacobs was famously something of a philanthropist, providing free candy to hospitals and orphanages in the area and giving children free ice cream during the Depression.
Baur’s ultimately ceased operations around 1970, but since then many other restaurants have called the same location home. Today the Baur’s building, which is recognized as a landmark by the city of Denmark, the Colorado state register of historic places, and the National Register of Historic Places, is currently home to a jazz club by the name of Dazzle. I’m told, based on research, that until quite recently the decadent Chocolate Mija Sundae, another Baur’s specialty, was available at several of these descendants.
A lot of the sandwich selections are very familiar to modern eyes, but it’s interesting to see how certain selections, like for instance chopped olives and nuts, are no longer standard sandwich fare. Where in the world is cottage cheese? On the rainbow fruit plate, which incidentally sounds almost like heaven to me.
Peppermint stick as a standard menu item? Ooh, forget it!
For those curious based on my earlier mention of it, “Mija” was what Baur’s called their take on English Toffee, it was named after Jacobs and the company president at the time, one Meier. Unclear what’s on the Teddy or Grizzly Bear Sundaes. A Rickey is a soda flavored with fruit juice (named after a gin cocktail with a similar recipe), who knows what’s in a Colorado one.
Fuuuuck. I have no words. I’m too hungry for that.
Join us next week, we’ll do like… I dunno, a seafood restaurant hundreds of miles inland from back when that was a novelty, or some such curio.