VINTAGE MENUS ARE WORKS OF ART
Cool Culinaria was established in the summer of 2012 by Charles Baum, Barbara McMahon and Eugen Beer with the aim of bringing the vintage art of dining out back to life.
We seek out menus from restaurants, bars and saloons, cafes, diners, drive-ins, nightclubs and hotels that have been languishing in storage, in the hands of private collectors or institutions. Some are damaged, so we both physically and digitally repair the wear and tear of time. We get rid of coffee and gravy stains, erase creases and repair paper tears. Some menus are repaired by professional art restorers and others are cleaned up by talented digital artists. Not too much. We want them to show their age – it is part of their charm.
We use beautifully textured art paper for our menus and diner signs. We use only archival inks and are lucky to have the expertise of the most experienced and talented printers in New York to ensure the highest quality of our finished prints. The rest of our range – mugs, pillows, coasters and place-mats are also all printed in the USA.
Our collection of menus from all over the world dates from the late 19th century through the 1970s. Our favorite period is from the years 1930–1960. This was a boom time when proprietors hired celebrated artists and highly talented illustrators to create stunning imagery to market their restaurants and themselves. It was a time when fish smoked pipes and cigars. Prawns and cockroaches wore top hats and spats. Voluptuous brunettes sat astride lobsters and devil like women drained their cocktail glasses in New York bars.
We think Cool Culinaria products will bring back memories for some and be conversation starters for others. However, for everyone, they are a reminder of the fabled history of dining out and of artwork that deserves to be appreciated and recognized.
Thank you for visiting Cool Culinaria. We’ll be bringing you newly found menus and other artifacts on a regular basis – please keep checking in.
Charles Baum is an ex-restaurateur, a photographer, and an inveterate collector of books and culinary ephemera.
Barbara McMahon is a Scottish-born journalist living in New York and a passionate collector and researcher of vintage menus.
Eugen Beer created the original concept behind Cool Culinaria and curates both the US and UK sites.
Images from The Oyster Loaf, San Francisco