A Rare Menu from the Cottage Inn

In the February issue of Memphis magazine, I mention that the "King of the Gamblers" — a fellow named Bob Berryman — committed a certain crime at a certain downtown cafe a certain number of years ago.

That's all I'm telling you right here, because I want — and fully expect — you to rush out and buy that issue, if you are not already a regular subscriber.

Anyway, the mention of the name Bob Berryman invariably brings up the famous nightclub that he opened, called the Silver Slipper, and to this day there's still a lot of confusion about where that was. At a party over the weekend, in fact, somebody told me they remember going to it "out on Poplar Pike."

No, they didn't. The Silver Slipper was located outside the city limits on Macon Road (the building burned in 1958, but the actual site today is just off present-day Shelby Oaks Drive).

If they went to a nice supper club on Poplar Pike, they almost certainly went to the Cottage Inn, which I have written about before on this blog.  This nice establishment, located on the little diagonal road that linked regular Poplar Avenue with Park/Poplar Pike, close to the intersection with Ridgeway, was run by a fellow named William Clark.

Back then I posted a menu that showed the rather fancy exterior of the Cottage Inn, but it was just the cover — there was nothing written inside. My pal Brian Sherman recently sent me a complete menu that included the inside pages (shown here) showing the actual offerings. It's bit blurry, but you can still make out that the place offered a surprising amount of food. And some of it may seem a bit strange to diners today.

All dinners, for example, included something called "Queen Olives." The $1.25 fried-chicken dinner came with "Long Branch Potatoes." The "most popular brands of beer" included Cooks and Kingsbury, names probably not too familiar with beer drinkers today. And look carefully at the sandwich selections: for just a quarter, you could enjoy a tasty "imported sardine" sandwich. Yum!

Clark added a nice little message to the back of his menu: "If we have not served you well, tell us. If there is anything wrong, our disposition is to make it right. Our Employees have been asked to be polite, attentive, and willing to serve."

I like that attitude. Not enough to make me want a sardine sandwich, but still, it's a nice touch.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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