This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
One of the greatest successes among Chicago lunch businesses is remarkable for the narrow compass in which it is carried on and the lack of any outward indications that would lead a stranger to suspect its existence, much less to surmise the immense extent of the feeding done on the premises. It is a narrow store building with ordinary bake-shop windows showing some bread and cakes and no other sign. But signs are needless, the place within is taxed to its fullest capacity in every inch of space to meet the demands of a singing multitude of pie eaters, and no more can be accommodated; no more can get in. The pressure begins at twelve o'clock each day, and some of the more ingenious or less restrained among the customers manage their business so as to resort there for their pie and milk between the hours of eleven and twelve, and so avoid waiting in line for the stool of their choice; after noon and until two o'clock there is no other chance, but to stand and wait for a turn, loving the men in front who take custard pie, because they can swallow it quickly and move on, and hating them that give the unusual order for ham sandwiches, two courses of apple dumplings or meringoes and iced coffee with a straw, because that means delay for the men who stand behind.
Great stories have been told of the enormous amounts of pastry of all kinds consumed at this principal bakery lunch house of the city, and the hundreds of thousands of customers served each year, but this is not to our purpose. There is a suggestion in it, however, that almost every town of consequence would support well a bakery lunch.house carried on in the right way: serving the very best of pastries of all varieties in liberal portions at a small price. The profit on each customer is necessarily small, but the aggregate, like the two cent stamp business of a post office, soon runs up to hundreds and thousands. The various pastries and cakes are produced in these large and successful establishments by the best bakery machinery and baked in rotary ovens of enormous capacity. It is often asked why such crowding as these places show should be allowed; why more roomy quarters are not provided and better accommodations. But, probably, the conditions noted are the only ones possible; to attempt to change the business would destroy it.
It is the public need that builds np such a trade; the men who own the business do not make the tide, they only ride upon it.