This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
A good deal has been said about the difficulty of filling the positions offered by club houses, and it is true that only a few men are adapted to become the abject servants which the aristocratic club idea requires them to be. There are in the largest cities healthful and useful sorts of clubs, like the Union League Club of Chicago, where business men derive real benefit from having a central place of their own in which to lunch or dine, to take a friend and pass an evening. They order from their own kitchen whatever special dishes they please, but at the same there is a regular lunch and dinner prepared by the best cooks, who are allowed the same freedom to make the bill of fare include their own best dishes and specialties that they would be accorded in any fine hotel, much to the advantage of the members, who thus benefit by whatever their employes' experience may have taught them. Some clubs in London and elsewhere have been noted for certain specialties in diet, the same as many restaurants, and the club members anywhere are proud of any such distinguishment.
About the "softest job" for a steward who is not over-scrupulous is to be found in the provincial club of some small town, These clubs are little more than drinking houses in disguise, probably genteel gambling houses as well. The members affect the airs of large city clubs, but are not numerous nor wealthy enough to support the pretention. For waiters they have lackeys dressed in swallow-tail coats with brass buttons, who are required to tremble when they frown, and they do frown terribly when the waiter, who has to put the suger in their tea and stir it up for them, makes the dreadful error of putting in three lumps when he ought to know they never take but two. They have a steward upon whom they rest all the cares and responsibility of running their kitchen, restaurant and liquor "cellar." They are usually in debt for their building and losing money every month besides, and, while a church society in such a case can resort to various means of raising the indebtedness, the club is too proud to do anything but suffer. But all this does not affect the steward's position or lessen its value. Only the club members are to be pitied.
They are obliged to spend their money at the club restaurant and take their meals there to help it along, and obliged to buy the wines and suppers for their friends there, although the fact of the club's being in debt is excuse enough for everything being charged for higher than would be the case at Delmonico's in New York. But " they that dance must pay the fiddler;" the steward who finds himself in such a position must expect frequent changes to occur and must do the best he can. As the club system combines, at least in the case of business men's clubs, both the table d'hote or hotel plan for regular club boarders and the restaurant or private party plan, an intimate knowledge of both is required by the club steward and a special readiness to tell how much such a meal will cost for how many.