El Dumpo, Chicago 1940s
El Dumpo, a nightclub in Chicago, deliberately made fun of its customers – and itself. The establishment boasted that it didn’t serve the finest food in the world, didn’t have the finest wines and liquors obtainable and its waiters weren’t the most efficient nor the most honest in the world.
Gag menus like this were part of a trend that started in the 1930s as a reaction to the so-called café society – the glamorous people and celebrities who frequented fashionable restaurants and bars.
If the average man or woman couldn’t afford to be part of café society – who cared? There were plenty of fun places like El Dumpo to enjoy.
Comedian Joey Bishop, a founder member of Frank Sinatra’s Ratpack and who went on to become the Master of Ceremonies at President John F Kennedy’s inaugural ball, polished his career here in cabaret, singing and tell jokes for a salary of $100 a week.
There was also an orchestra and show girls. It must have been quite a place.
We don’t have a definitive date for this menu but think it was from the 1940s.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu or cover.