How did waiters fare during Prohibition?

margaret-bourke-white-waiters-serving-at-marlborough-house-a-speakeasy-haven-for-drinking-socialites-during-prohibitionHere’s an interesting tidbit I stumbled upon–how Prohibition affected waiters.

During Prohibition, especially in the cities, a restaurant that didn’t sell booze was doomed to fail. Obviously, customers preferred the ones who flouted the laws, but it was more than that. According to Daniel Okrent in Last Call, labor economics favored the illegal speakeasies, “because tips in speakeasies were so much larger, so was the earning power of their waiters and chefs; this attracted the best in the business.” 

Others flocked to hotels where they could drink in the privacy of their own rooms. So many people were using hotel rooms in this fashion that the practice led to the installation of wall-mounted bottle openers which were fastened to a door jamb so they wouldn’t be stolen. 

These are both nuggets I can use in my mysteries.

Published in: on July 12, 2014 at 7:49 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. wow. i remember being in a hotel when i was young and they had the bottle opener in the room. very interesting about the waiters. did they still have the free food available at the bars?

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