Imagine a restaurant management style diametrically opposed to Gordon Ramsay’s (as he takes command in nightmarish kitchens on TV), and you might well be picturing how Mary Love ran her restaurant, The Maramor in Columbus, Ohio.
Mary was a home economist who had previously managed the tea room at the F & R Lazarus department store in Columbus. Single, 29 years old, and a lodger in a family’s home, she opened a small place at 112 E. Broad in 1920. Not much later she married Malcolm McGuckin and for a few years they lived in California where he ran a Wills Sainte Claire auto dealership. When the car plant shut down in 1927 the McGuckins moved back to Columbus to run the restaurant, now at 137 E. Broad.
Malcolm was president of the company which also included a candy shop, while Mary, mother of four by 1928, managed the restaurant. She believed in supervising employees in a non-conflictual way. Sociologist William Foote Whyte presented her method of conducting staff meetings in a 1946 article. Mary’s style of management, which Whyte characterized as the “open-minded exploratory approach,” stressed listening, participation, and sensitivity to others’ feelings. “Make sure there is no personal embarrassment to any individual,” she insisted. Also, “Guide the meeting so that an … overemotional person does not take the reins.” (Gordon?)
In 1941 Mary described to a home economics conference how she ran her kitchen. She avoided frying and stressed the nutritional properties of food, preparing fresh vegetables to retain flavor and vitamins. Each day her planning department presented the production manager with the day’s menus, while a weighing and measuring specialist prepared trays with complete ingredients for every dish. The trays were given to the cooks, along with detailed instructions for cooking. “This,” Mary said, “helps them to keep their poise and self-respect through the working day, and a cook with poise and self-respect has a better chance of turning out a good product.” (Gordon?)
Thanks to testimonials from theatrical personalities appearing in plays in town, such as Helen Hayes and Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the restaurant earned a national reputation. Lunt and Fontanne, who ate there often, were so pleased with the restaurant’s “Lamb Luntanne” that they declared in the guest book that The Maramor was “the best restaurant in America.” Hayes, a queen in “Victoria Regina,” praised the Maramor’s vichyssoise, calling it “A soup to a queen’s taste.”
Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas may have eaten at The Maramor during their 1934 visit to Columbus. It seems likely that Alice was referring to it when she wrote: “In Columbus, Ohio, there was a small restaurant that served meals that would have been my pride if they had come to our table from our kitchen. The cooks were women and the owner was a woman and it was managed by women. The cooking was beyond compare, neither fluffy nor emasculated, as women’s cooking can be [Oh Alice!], but succulent and savoury.”
Duncan Hines named The Maramor one of his favorite eating places in an early 1947 interview, singling out its incomparable stewed chicken: “The chicken is so delicate in flavor, tender, the dumplings light as thistledown, cooked in the rich, creamy gravy.” In 1945 the McGuckins had sold the restaurant to Maurice Sher and moved to California, so it’s not clear exactly whose stewed chicken Hines meant. In 1948 the restaurant was listed in Gourmet’s Guide to Good Eating. The Shers operated the restaurant until 1969. Next it had a short run as a music venue, the Maramor Club. The building was razed in 1972.
© Jan Whitaker, 2009