Famous in its day: The Maramor

maramormaprevImagine 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?)

homeecon-ramsay2-copyIn 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

30 Comments

Filed under food, history, restaurants

30 responses to “Famous in its day: The Maramor

  1. Fantastic stuff! I write a column on local history here in a Columbus and would love to speak with you. I am also working on a book with 3 others on the KAHIKI that will be out this fall and some of the history of Maramor during the 1960s would be great. Thanks!

  2. RHONDA MCDANIEL

    While in high school…I went to the Maramor quite often to enjoy the entertainment…. I saw folks like John Davidson, Totie Fields, Smothers Brothers, Ed Ames, Paula Wayne, Marilyn Maye, Sandler and Young and many, many more. Danny Deeds (manager?) sort of “adopted” me and made sure I was ok while I was there. I was only about sixteen when I first started going. I grew up in Groveport, OH. and I miss Columbus and the Maramor….Rhonda McDaniel

  3. William McGuckin

    As the youngest son of Mary Love and Malcolm Leland McGuckin, I first went to work at the Maramor when I was 10, for 10 cents per hour. I ran errands, did odd jobs and just generally got in the way. Toward the end of my Maramor days, I made ice cream and candy, packed it for shipment to our troops. made fresh beansprouts and delivered Christmas gift packages. Times were tough during the depression. Once at about 11, I dressed in a chef’s coat and hat, and sold hot crossed buns from the Maramor bakery on the sidewalk while I played my trumpet . . . badly. In 1946, when I graduated from Bexley H.S., and the Maramor was sold, we moved to California. I now live in Arizona and think often of what a unique restaurant my parents created. It was wonderful.

  4. Sharon

    I have an original playbill featuring The Smother’s Brothers at the Maramor. It is large 40″ X 60″ and unframed. Anyone interested? $35.00 Can send you a photo. Located in Marion, OH.

  5. Ann Casto Moran

    My mother Betty Grover Casto modeled for The Maramor (wearing clothes from Montaldo’s) for special luncheons in the 50’s. She was beautiful!

  6. Jim Shields

    I found a stoneware dish, with small handles on each side. On the back has the markings -4054 the Maramor Italy. Does anyone know what this means? The man who lived here was in italy in wwii.

    • Stephen Bolejack

      Hi Jim, Your bowl was sold at the restaurant in the mid 1900’s. They are marked “1954 The Maramor Italy” They were specially made in Italy for the restaurant, “The Maramor” and are very collectable and rare!

      • Dan

        I own a large and very impressive Murano glass fruit bowl that is engraved, “The Maramor Seguso Murano” Seguso would have been the factory or artist in Murano that made this piece. It must have been commissioned and I am sure would have been very expensive. It seems that it could have only been for this restaurant?

  7. Pat Coffin Fry

    My grandmother used to take me for lunch at the Maramor, when I was a young girl and visiting on a weekend, while my parents took care of my younger siblings. I was thrilled to be allowed to pick a small toy out of the “treasure chest” at the door, and then always ordered what we called “chicken in a mashed potato nest”. We loved the Maramor–this was in the mid-to-late 1950s.

  8. I would be extremely appreciative if I could receive permission to use your Maramor “map” jpeg in a story I am writing about my mother who worked as a waitress at the restaurant when she got out of college in 1949.

    Sincerely,

    Joan E. Hamilton

  9. Pingback: Sorry, Downtown Columbus is Closed « columbusbestblog.com

  10. Yesterday’s Mike Harden’s column in the Columbus Dispatch mentions the Maramor more than once. The 9-13-2009 Commentary is on a book published by David Cohen. The book is called “Sorry, Downtown Columbus is Closed” about change.

  11. Mary Love Hargreaves

    Here is a bit of Maramor history.

    I am the daughter of Mary Love and Malcolm McGuckin. I was born in 1924 so I grew up with the Maramor restaurant, and I have fond memories of it The Maramor candy business was the best part. I used to visit the candy kitchen and sneak pieces of candy when no one was looking.
    The name Maramor is a contraction of Marie Amour. I was named after my mother (Mary Love)

    • How wonderful to hear from you! Thanks for sharing your memories. JW

    • Ben

      My name is Ben Spicer. I am the Vice President of Operations at Maramor Chocolates. I have always been interested in the history of the company. We try to collect menus, dishes, and other memorabilia. I have two employees that worked at 137 location making candy.

      • William McGuckin

        Ben, one of the most interesting of the Maramor memorabilia is the Celebrity Book that was compiled up until 1945 by my father Malcolm McGuckin, who with Mary Love McGuckin, his wife, founded the Maramor. The Hartman Theater, which was the Lincoln Center of Columbus, if you can imagine that, featured many of Broadway and Hollywood’s top stars in tryouts and road companies. When whey came to town, the Maramor became their favorite restaurant.

        Malcolm McGuckin started a leather bound book which he would bring to their tables for signatures. Soon they were adding comments about the restaurant, and before long they started writing notes to each other. It makes fascinating reading. The book also contains a Western Union telegram . . . the old kind with the strips of paper tape bearing the message . . . from Eddie Cantor, after his show moved on. It said, “My body is in Syracuse, but my appetite is in Columbus”.

        By the way, the name Maramor is a contraction of “Mary Love” in French.

  12. Pingback: Food Famous in its day: The Maramor | India Restaurants

    • Eugene E. Pearson

      My mother always “bragged” about working in a “Tea Room”, as a teen ager in the 20”s, in the Pinson, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, area of Alabama. Any History of that time and era? Your blog is wonderful to read and I hoped that I might
      find something of interest about that time and area.
      Thanks for the info provided

  13. I am in Columbus Ohio… this was long before my time but it is fun to read anyway.

    Where’d you find the advertisement?

    • I have been collecting restaurant postcards for a long time. This one, which is postmarked in the 1950s, is one I especially like.

      • I found the artist online by Googling the name in the corner of your postcard. He was a cartoonist. I may have to blog about it all on one of my Columbus blogs.

      • William McGuckin

        I believe the postcard by Dudley Fisher dates back to the 1930’s. I remember seeing it many times as I grew up as part of the Maramor family. Fisher was a real fan, and as far as I know, he never was paid anything for this or any of the many other contributions he made.

        Another contributor was the now-much-recognized artist Alice Schille, who was a close friend of Mary Love McGuckin. She painted wonderful whimsical animals as part of the decoration of the dining rooms, for the menus, and the candy labels.

        William McGuckin

  14. Appears Mr. Ramsay should heed some pointers. GREAT post once again, Jan…

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