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Menu collections, anyone?

woelkaru Aug 20, 2012 08:09 PM

Ever since I started cooking, I have a thing for collecting menus. My favs are menus from different countries (i.e. pizza places in Australia) and B-n-B breakfast menus.
Anyone else have drawers full of hole-in-the-wall menus, fuel to keep the creativity flowing?

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  1. s
    sedimental RE: woelkaru Aug 20, 2012 08:48 PM

    I have a few from actual physical places I have been...... but honestly...I just search the internet for them. That way I can get them from all over the globe with little effort and I can delete the items I am not interested in.

    1. Ruthie789 RE: woelkaru Aug 21, 2012 09:50 AM

      My Dad has an interesting restaurant menu from 1949 , called the CHIC n COOP. What a revelation about price increases and food trends.

      1. b
        Beloved1 RE: woelkaru Aug 22, 2012 06:15 AM

        I keep menus from 'special' restaurants that I've been to. I've even framed some so I can remember what a lovely time I had the night I dined. This is obviously a different use than what you state in your post.....

        1. h
          HillJ RE: woelkaru Aug 22, 2012 08:53 AM

          From the time I was married (at 19) to the present day I have been collecting menus from independent Bed and Breakfast owners and hotel-based restaurants, but not independent or chain restaurants.

          A few years ago I took over a BnB and I've worked for a couple dozen hotels around the globe. The menus are a real collective of trends and inspiration (not to mention insight into budgets) that I treasure. The humor found in menus is also wonderful.




          If you ever get the chance, visit.

          7 Replies
          1. re: HillJ
            kubasd RE: HillJ Aug 22, 2012 09:18 AM

            Thank you for those links, soooo cool! I never knew anything like that existed.... oh sheltered me :)

            1. re: kubasd
              HillJ RE: kubasd Aug 22, 2012 09:22 AM

              My pleasure, kubasd. There are library collections for hotel menus, specifically in the UK as well.

            2. re: HillJ
              HillJ RE: HillJ Aug 22, 2012 09:26 AM

              For UNLV you'll need to use their search engine under special collections.

              1. re: HillJ
                paulj RE: HillJ Aug 24, 2012 02:10 PM

                The nypl collection was discussed on The Splendid Table a while back

                1. re: HillJ
                  lifeasbinge RE: HillJ Aug 27, 2012 04:28 PM

                  wow, that's wonderful - thank you!

                  1. re: HillJ
                    woelkaru RE: HillJ Aug 28, 2012 07:58 PM

                    Wow, this is fantastic! Thanks!

                    1. re: woelkaru
                      HillJ RE: woelkaru Aug 28, 2012 08:31 PM

                      My pleasure. The best part of any collection is sharing the resources!

                  2. h
                    HillJ RE: woelkaru Aug 22, 2012 08:55 AM


                    Also found this interesting CHOW video; an older Obsessives.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: HillJ
                      EM23 RE: HillJ Aug 23, 2012 10:47 AM

                      Thanks for sharing this - so interesting. Menu collecting is popular on E-bay - some selling for $500+.

                      1. re: EM23
                        HillJ RE: EM23 Aug 23, 2012 11:11 AM

                        I've attended auctions that included menus and restaurant memorabilia that went for thousands. EMS23, I've been collecting for 5 decades and I still learn new stuff all the time. My very first menu, before it reached collection "status" was the one from my very 1st hotel stay with my Grandmother who took me out for a weekend birthday celebration. She told me the menu was valuable, I was awestruck.

                    2. foodeditormargaux RE: woelkaru Aug 23, 2012 10:31 AM

                      As a food, wine and travel editor and journalist, I have been collecting Menus for years. We look at them on New Year´s Eve with our two daughters, and each one of them, have a nostaglic note and date ... Found some from 1992 to 1997 and my husband and I had such a lovely time over lunch with them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: foodeditormargaux
                        HillJ RE: foodeditormargaux Aug 23, 2012 11:11 AM

                        What a wonderful way to enjoy them, fooded.

                      2. h
                        HillJ RE: woelkaru Aug 23, 2012 07:21 PM

                        Tonight I was catching up on Jim Leff's slog and read his entry on Evernote; using it to capture menus. So, I revisited the Evernote site and found a couple of new apps including Evernote Food http://evernote.com/food/. Quirky little company with some interesting sharing ideas.

                        1. c
                          curiousbaker RE: woelkaru Dec 12, 2012 12:10 PM

                          I posted this over in the Chowhounds wanted thread, but I saw this and thought I might have some success here. I'm look for menu donations for a new museum exhibit.

                          Since its opening in 2008, SoFAB has garnered accolades for its exhibits and special programs, including being named one of the five great food museums by Saveur magazine. As a result of the enormous success of these first years of operation, the museum is moving to a new and larger permanent space at the beginning of next year.

                          A major feature of the new space will be a exhibit devoted to each of the 17 states of the South. The Museum has assembled a group of food writers, food historians, business owners and cooks to guest-curate the state exhibits. I'm serving as curator for the state of Oklahoma.

                          If you have old or new menus or other items (matchbooks, ashtrays, name tags, signs, posters, uniforms, napkins, anything!) that you would be willing to donate, your donation will be credited in the permanent exhibit. The donation is tax-deductible. Please email me at kjweldon@yahoo.com for more information. Thanks!

                          Thank you.


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: curiousbaker
                            HillJ RE: curiousbaker Dec 12, 2012 12:17 PM

                            Have you tried approaching hotels, restaurants and bars in your state already? Most archive their menus and marketing items.

                            Another resource would be to ask your library to post an open call for such items throughout their state wide Intranet on your behalf.

                            If you have colleges nearby you might ask about their archives and partnering institutions as well for such items.

                            As a collector, I've gotten some incredible leads directly from people working in the industry but I'm not willing to part with my collection.

                            Good luck!

                            1. re: HillJ
                              curiousbaker RE: HillJ Dec 14, 2012 06:42 AM

                              Yes, I am contacting restaurants, hotels, etc. directly. We're partnering with some other institutions as well. I hadn't thought of contacting the library, but I will do that, thanks.

                              Oddly enough, the museum has been very lucky in getting personal collectors to donate items. Some collectors - and some organizations - understandably don't want to part with the things in their collections, but some are ready to pare down and enjoy knowing that the items they have so carefully preserved will be seen and treasured, not simply discarded.

                              1. re: curiousbaker
                                HillJ RE: curiousbaker Dec 14, 2012 06:42 AM

                                Good luck to you and your colleagues in your continuing effort.

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