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Apr 13, 2002 10:48 PM

Was Henrici's a restaurant?

  • k

I have a lot of old books of Chicago with many pictures. Many pictures shows a place with a big neon sign with the word Henrici's on it. Anyone know where this was located or if it was a restaurant?

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  1. Yes, and it was quite famous, sort of the way Delmonico's or later Sardi's was in New York. From Chicago Confidential (1950), by which time it was the lone survivor of an era (note that today's lone survivor, the Berghoff, doesn't rate a mention):

    Almost all the better reaturants which were the rendezvous of the sportier sets, the top show people, political prominents, the grand-standers and the box-holders when Chicago had race tracks within its limits, have also been obliterated by rising rents and declining patronage. Among these were DeJohnge's, Stilson's, Kuntz-Remmler's, Vogelsang's, Billy Boyle's Chop House, Billy Mangler's, The Union, not to mention the world-famous Heinegabubler's, with its collapsing stairs, soap for cheese and many other practical jokes which were considered devilish. Henrici's is among the few standard eating-places left and that has been taken over by a lunchroom chain, though its standards are still high.

    There re several other references to it (such as that the waitresses were over-the-hill models). The fact of having waitresses (as opposed to Berghoff-style waiters) is used to demonstrate how it was never especially posh or haute cuisine, despite being a see-and-be-seen place (I think the modern equivalent would be that Greek coffeeshop where the aldermen hung out until it turned out it was bugged by the feds). Another observation the book makes is that apparently it popularized the phrase "Dine Without Orchestral Din" as a way to make a virtue out of being too cheap to have a swing band.

    I have to admit, as much as I'd like to go back in time and see it, it's Heinegabubler's that really makes me curious....

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mike G

      Ah yes, Henrici's was indeed a very fine restaurant in downtown Chicago. I had eaten there many times, my most fond memory was the serving of a very small individual pitcher of coffee cream with whipped cream on the top for your coffee. I was just at the age when I first started to drink coffee, and it made me feel most elegant. Ah memories

      1. re: Sally

        if you want to relive your coffee cream moment you might want to go to Lutz pastry on montrose. Now that the weather is nicer their little garden is really a good spot. And they have been around forever.

    2. My parents went to Henrici's a couple of times (courtesy of WGN Radio). They once took me there and, as a child, it was a great experience. Dining out was a very rare occasion for my family and even rarer when kids were involved.

      I don't remember when they closed down; I think it was early 80s.

      1. Hernrici's was indeed a restaurant in Chicago. If I remember correctly it was on Wabash and either Madison, Washington or Randolph. To describe the food I would my father-in-laws expression of wholesome. In other words plain old fashion ie well done roast beef and no seasonings other than salt and maybe pepper. The watresses when I remember it wore the typical old watress style dress although I think they were black or grey and not pink and white aprons and little frou frou hats. Thats about all by memory tells me.

        1. Henrici's was indeed a restaurant, founded, in fact by my great-grandfather. It was closed in the 1960's. I'd have to look up my genealogy to know exactly when.

          5 Replies
          1. re: JCH

            JCH--i would love to hear more of your memories of Henrici's and your great grandfather!

            1. re: mrkrogers

              According to this website, which discusses the 1959 menu, it was founded in 1868:

              Henrici's menu from 1933 can be found here (yes, those prices are in CENTS):

            2. re: JCH

              I know I was there a time or two. Think we went for Easter brunch back in the early 50's. Very famous restaurant!

              1. re: JCH

                Apparently there was a bit of an art collection there including a William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Do u have a list of the paintings sold when the restaurant closed.

                1. re: JCH

                  JCH: It's been more than 14 years since your 2002 post, so this is a big shot in the dark. When I was young, every time we went to a Henrici's restaurant I was reminded by my elders that our family was related to the Henricis. Now, many decades later, my 92-year-old aunt is the only one of that generation left and she insists it's true - but she doesn't know what the relationship is, and says to her recollection she never met a Henrici. I've done some family genealogy and haven't made the connection. Possible last names where your family and mine could have crossed are Trappe, Brauer, Schwabe, Goldmann, Aurin, Lucke, Wehrenberger, Wollenhaupt, Lauch, Henze. I always thought the Brauers might be the most likely, since a Brauer ancestor opened the Brauer Cafe in Lincoln Park and maybe there was a marriage between restaurateurs? I'd like to be invited to THAT Thanksgiving. Cheers, RT

                2. Henrici's also sold baked goods and Henrici's Coffee Cake recipe is online. Google it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Querencia

                    I have included a link to some former employees which will give you a little more insight as to the nature of the place.

                    My family would often go to the Rosemont/Des Plaines location for Sunday dinner (Late lunch). I remember the flaming desserts, the individual jug of whipped cream which would sometimes be passed on as a treat for we children. The professional waitresses. The last time I remember going there was in the 70's.

                    It had quite a formal feeling to the place. Certainly NOT like a Greek coffee shop as someone had mentioned above.


                    1. re: twodales

                      I forgot to mention the parfait for dessert. A fancy name for a sundae served in a tall glass.