This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
If anything can be made in a dining room and restaurant enterprise on the fair grounds, when everything is favorable to success, the venture at this place ought to turn out well. I write now of the eating department exclusively, for the liquor or liquid privileges were sold separately and do not affect the following exhibit of expenses incurred (liquors, by the way, are known by different names in the Atlanta prohibition patois from those common in the freer portions of the country) - and only cigar selling is included as an aid to pay the first grand tax. The gentlemen interested have the advantage of both hotel and mercantile experience; they know how to buy and where to buy the best and cheapest. The privileges sold to these parties as the highest bidders, were to run a dining room on the regular meal plan, meals not to be charged higher than fifty cents, and to run another on a different part of the grounds on the a la carte plan, all dishes bearing a distinct price. Both of these places are now running. The dining room is just what the name implies.
Persons approaching the door find a ticket seller in the way, they buy their tickets, paying, of course, in advance for their meal; then at the door they deliver the ticket to the doorkeeper and pass in when the headwaiter directs them to seats at one or other of the tables. A good ordinary meal is served without a bill of fare, consisting of about three kinds of meet, half a dozen vegetables, three kinds of sweets, that is, pudding and two kinds of pie, and ending with coffee or tea; bread, butter, pickles, cheese and such oddments being of course supplied without stint. The other place is like your Chicago Oyster House, a good bill of fare is found upon the tables, oysters, fish, game, made dishes and steaks, chops, etc., in variety are cooked to order, and parties can spend as much as they please; the prices are high enough to make the place sufficiently exclusive and so all kinds of people are suited. To secure the pay under this plan where every dish bears a different price and there can be no prepayment, the plan is to have the waiters pass a desk where a clerk counts up the amount on their tray, gives a ticket to go with the order and drops a duplicate ticket into a locked box.
The customer takes the ticket to the cashier and pays as he goes out, and at night the clerk's box of tickets and the cashier's tickets and cash are expected to correspond in amount. This is all a pleasant and smooth sort of a business when once fairly in running order, but it is calculated to appal a lazy man at least to contemplate the work that must be done in the short limit of three or four weeks to equip and commence operations in two such places, the carpenters being still at work building them, and then to think that after the finish they are but to run twelve days. It will be useful to some who have never been through the mill to read over a list of only the principal things that must be done for such a spurt of business. We have here, nearly all bought outright and not hired:
Two hotel ranges, each one fire and two ovens, one of them new, the other bought cheaply.
One ten-foot oyster and chop range to burn charcoal, made to order; ten feet of heavy gridirons, cupola, four flues and smoke stack and expenses of putting up.
One three-foot broiler, new.
One carving table, new, with dish warmer and water heating attachment, made to order, with tin-ware steam chest utensils belonging.
One wooden water tank for range, made to order, and expenses of fittings.
Two wells dug one at each kitchen door, and equipped with frames, pulleys and buckets.
Two small pantries partitioned off from kitchens, fitted with shelves, doors, locks, etc.
One store-room fitted with shelves, meat hooks, locks, etc.
Two butcher's meat blocks, one for each place.
Two refrigerators, not new.
Two new meat saws and cleavers.
Eight kitchen and dish-tables, common.
Eight dish-washing tubs fitted with drain pipes.
Two dish racks erected on whole side of dish rooms.
Four tin boilers with faucets and strainers for coffee and tea, average ten gallons each.
Six tall tin boilers for boiling hams and for general purposes.
Three eight-gallon sauce-pans with lids, made to order.
Fifty oyster and other sauce-pans.
Two large potato fryers.
Six wire broilers.
Twelve fry and omelette pans, various sizes.
Thirty-six tin pans, all sizes, including strainers, etc.
Spoons, ladles, dippers, skimmers, in variety.
Fifty dining tables, six-seat size, new.
Four hundred and fifty split-bottom chairs, new, made to order.
One hundred and fifty white damask table-cloths, new, hemmed.
Two thousand linen napkins, new, hemmed.
Thirty-six plated castors or cruet stands.
Thirty-six waiters' trays.
Eighteen gasoline lamps or torches for use at Intervals when electric light is not in operation.
Sign painting, kalsomining, bunting decorations, evergreens, sign-card printing, ticket printing, bill of fare printing.
Thirty feet of show cases, rented.
Telephone connection and instrument, rented.
Wagons and drays hired, between fifty and one hundred at a dollar a load - exposition prices.
Two head waiters and thirty side waiters hired for the fair at extra rates of wages.
Two head cooks and twenty-six kitchen hands.
Six cashiers and clerks beside proprietors, counting one in store room and one at cigar stand.
Insurance on four thousand dollars worth of property and stock including cigars at special risk rate of 2 1/2 per cent.
"Fore-warned is fore-armed." The above shows the principal bulk of the burden to be taken on before business can be begun in the line of exposition catering. Fuel, imported New York meats, game, shell oysters, fish, bread, butter, the hundred miscellaneous items of provision, have to come afterwards.