Famous in its day: Maillard’s

maillard5thave206Henri Maillard came to New York City from France in the 1840s bringing with him a bit of Paris represented in the pots and pans and fancy moulds he used as a chocolatier. It wasn’t long before he added a catering department to his confectionery at Broadway and Houston. He let the public know he was ready to produce meringues, Charlotte Russes, jellies and ice creams for balls and parties, as well as provide dinners by reservation on his premises. His fame spread beyond New York, leading him to cater an inaugural ball and grand dinners at the Lincoln White House. In 1878 he took the gold medal at the Paris Universal Exposition at which he exhibited solid chocolate statues and vases weighing from 100 to 180 pounds each and a catalog of 3,000 candies.

maillardmarshmallows209When he died in 1900 at age 84, his estate was valued at $2 million, a vast fortune at that time. His son Henry Maillard Jr. continued the business, moving the fashionable restaurant and candy store in 1908 from the lower level of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, its home since the early 1870s, to more luxurious quarters at Fifth Avenue and 35th street (pictured). By this time Maillard’s had long enjoyed a reputation as the premier restaurant of society women. Billing itself as “An Ideal Luncheon Restaurant for Ladies,” it also offered afternoon tea from 3 to 6 p.m. In 1913 Maillard’s opened a branch in Stern’s Department Store.

maillardext207In 1922 Maillard’s made another move, this time to Madison Avenue at 47th street. At this address it added something new, a dining room for men with its own entrance separate from the larger women’s dining room. It was undoubtedly this location which attracted the patronage of James Beard, who would later write, “In the ‘twenties in New York, you’d have a good cup of Maillard hot chocolate and a chicken sandwich for 75 cents and you thought you were whirling through the world.” In the 1920s there was also a Maillard’s restaurant and store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago where patrons lunched on delicate sandwiches of cream cheese and white cherries.

During the Depression Maillard’s failed. The Chicago location was taken over by the Fred Harvey corporation as its first non-railroad restaurant, while a syndicate took over the New York location and the Maillard’s name. Although Maillard’s candy was produced until the 1960s or later, the restaurant at Madison and 47th, which advertised mundane economy lunches of corned beef, veal cutlets, and chopped ham sandwiches during the 1930s, closed in 1942.

© Jan Whitaker, 2008

13 Comments

Filed under food, restaurants

13 responses to “Famous in its day: Maillard’s

  1. Anonymous

    I bought a pot with the Maillard’s name one it. It appears to be made of a nickle-silver alloy and has a lid with a removable inner piece. Does anyone have any idea what it could be? I can send pictures if need be. Also, I think the bottom says it was made in Philadelphia. It has a serial #…..

  2. A propos de Maillard, je vous invite à consulter les liens suivants :

    http://mganivet.com/mganivet.com/Bonjour_!_files/Conférence%20Champeaux2%2013_11_2011.pdf

    http://mganivet.com/mganivet.com/Bibliographie_files/Conférence%20Maillard%201997.pdf

    Désolé, je ne pratique pas la langue américaine. Mais peut-être trouverez-vous quelqu’un pour traduire.
    Bien cordialement.
    M. Ganivet

  3. Henri Maillard’s son, Alexis Henri Maillard (known as Henry) took over the chocolate company and restaurant in the late 1800’s. He married my great aunt Mary Kennedy. My mother remembered going to their home on Fifth Avenue in 1924 when she was four and being amazed at how lavishly they lived. The second Henry had a son, another Henry, born 1909.

    • Charles H. Michel

      Dear Ms. Erickson,

      The Maillards you’re talking about in your comment do not seem to be the Maillards of chocolate fame.

      Henry Maillard’s son’s name wasn’t Alexis. He married a French girl, Marie, whose last name wasn’t Kennedy. She was born in 1857 and died in 1913, so I doubt she could have welcomed your mother in her home on Fifth Avenue in 1924. She and Henry didn’t have any children.

      The only accurate fact in your comment concerning “Chocolats Maillard” is that Henry Jr. took over the chocolate company and restaurant in the late 1800’s.

      • Patty

        It is very possible I am wrong. I am just looking at census records, and what I know from family trees. Mary Kennedy lived in NY with Henry Maillard. In the 30’s after his death, she moved up to Rochester, NY.

    • Charles H. Michel

      Dear Ms. Erickson,

      What you say about Henry Maillard death in the 1930s is the confirmation that you are talking about a completely different person.
      Henry Maillard, the heir to “Chocolats Maillard”, died in his chateau in Normandy, in 1946 and had been a widower since 1913. That same year, according to M. Ganivet [see above], Henry Maillard, came back to France to live permanently at Champeaux.

      • Patty Erickson

        Dear Mr. Michel,

        I guess I have been barking up the wrong tree. I guess what threw me off is that in the census for the early 20th century, MY Henry Maillard listed his occupation as a confectioner, and then later a decorator.

      • Charles H. MIchel

        Dear Ms. Erickson,

        The coincidence of two confectioners and two Henry Maillard explains your confusion. It would be interesting to know who was exactly your Henry Maillard. Was he in any way related to “mine.” Henry “Chocolats” Maillard had only one sister, who died in her late teens, and no children of his. Maillard — ending with a D or a T — is a common name in France.

        My maternal great-grandfather was involved in New York with “Chocolats Maillard” from 1870 until 1905 when he finished as it’s director and came back to France to retire. He died in 1919. That’s why I was interested in what this site had to say…

  4. What an interesting post! I found an ad for Maillard’s in a very old (late 1800’s) issue of St. Nicholas Magazine for Children. I collect these vintage publications and often use their ads in my collages and altered books. The ad describes “Maillard’s exclusive process of manufacture”; it also says, “The unique Luncheon Restaurant is a popular resort for ladies – afternoon tea 3 to 7.” My google search was successful — I found this site. 8-)

  5. Pascal Copin

    good morning
    I would be very interested to know a little more about Henri Maillard who came to New York in the 40s; would you know where he was born (place, region?) and where he died (and when?); that could be very helpful; I found an article this week end in Normandy about a Henri Maillard, chocolatier who has bougnt a chateau in Normandy at the end of his life; could it be the same person ?
    thank you for your article
    I’ll be pleased to read you again
    bye
    Pascal

    • Yes, Henri Maillard was a Norman. I’m not sure exactly when he was born, but he died in Paris in 1900 at age 84. He was reputedly involved in early discussions about the Statue of Liberty and was an investor in the Bon Marche department store in Paris. He lent fellow Norman Aristide Boucicaut $1 million so he could buy out the business’s co-owner ca. 1865.

      • kgs

        Maillard was from the town of Mortagne in Normandy, and got his cullinary start there working in the restaurant of his uncle Noel Bouche, the Grand Hotel du Cerf. I don’t have the family history before me, but he was my cousin, I think four times removed. The Henry Maillard who bought the chateau in the same area and died there in I think 1946? was his son, Henry Maillard Jr.

  6. I am absolutely intrigued by your posts. I had to add your blog to my blog roll so I remember to drop in every now and again for a taste of the past.

    Thanks for sharing Jan…

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