21 January 2007

Good eats on Ellis Island, 1894

Originally published in The New York Times, December 13, 1894, here's an interesting piece about the restaurant at Ellis Island that served many of our ancestors on their first stop on U.S. soil.

The menu offered bread (rye, wheat, Swedish in 1 and 2 pound loaves), pies, bologna, ham, corned beef, cheese, milk, soup with bread, sandwiches, smoking tobacco and cigars.

A paper bag lunch would be packed according to the immigrant's next stage of his journey:

"Scranton, eh?" repeated the man who dispensed bread and sausage. The immigrant nodded and grinned, knowing as much about the location of Scranton as he did about Tasmania. Before the grin died away the restaurant man had made up a "Scranton lunch," that is, one which was supposed to be enough to last until the immigrant reached that place. This consisted in most instances of one big loaf of bread, one bologna, a chunk of cheese, and a bottle of beer or ginger ale. If the immigrant had been going further more luncheon would have been sold to him.

Another part of the restaurant's business was supplying food to the "detained," who would be stuck on Ellis Island for varying periods. The steamship companies had to pay for the food for the detained passengers.

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