Find of the day: Iffland’s Hofbrau-Haus

Iffland'sPC

Summer is the season for flea markets. A day at Brimfield this week yielded few thrills, unfortunately, yet I did find this interesting postcard of a Newark NJ restaurant.

iffland'sjohnIffland1893Iffland’s was established on Market street in Newark in 1867, just one year after John Iffland immigrated from Germany at the age of 25. [He is pictured here at about 51.] A few years later he moved to 187 Market, the location shown on the postcard.

Many of his patrons were businessmen, possibly of German heritage. Newark had a large German population. It also had many breweries, most of them run by German-Americans. Undoubtedly he served local beer, but he also imported beer from Germany. In the 1880s, when his business seemed to be more saloon than restaurant, Iffland ran advertisements in the German-language newspaper New Jersey Deutsche Zeitung announcing that he was serving beer imported from Munich. He also imported Salvator, a strong beer created to fortify those fasting during Lent.

It’s quite likely that by the time the postcard was produced, probably ca. 1910, John Iffland had retired and turned the business over to his two sons, Henry and John Jr. Perhaps it was they who installed the restaurant’s “beef-steak garret,” taking advantage of the popular fad for groups of men to hold dinners where they bonded while drinking beer and eating steaks with their bare hands. Possibly the restaurant’s kitchen was located in the basement, explaining why Iffland’s had a beefsteak garret rather than the typical “beefsteak dungeon” or “den” in an ominous looking cellar.

John Iffland died in 1917 and the business closed about that same time, allegedly because anti-German sentiment occasioned by the country’s entry into World War I on the side of the Allies against Germany, along with the impossibility of importing beer from Germany, had made it unprofitable.

© Jan Whitaker, 2016

5 Comments

Filed under popular restaurants, proprietors & careers

5 responses to “Find of the day: Iffland’s Hofbrau-Haus

  1. Great article. Jan!
    German food and beer had a major impact on Chicago’s history. The Lager Beer riots in 1855 were Chicago’s first civil disturbance (1 killed, 60 injured) and the beginning of partisan politics!

    http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/703.html

    When I was a child there were dozens of great German restaurants on the North Side. The names are fading from memory, but most were neighborhood places like Zum Deutschen Eck The Golden Ox, The Black Forest where a taxidermied bear greeted customers), Red Star Inn and so forth.

  2. Terrific find Jan. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Michael McKernan

    Jan, have you seen Dave Hoekstra’s THE SUPPER CLUB BOOK? If not, you might find it interesting.

    Aside from its factual content, I found Hoekstra’s writing style interesting. I think of it as “non-sequitur par excellence”–at first very disconcerting to me, but after awhile, I started to find it sort of “charming.” If you have a look at it, let me know what you think?

    Also of interest to me were the multiple, conflicting descriptions of the midwest daily meal cycle…Hoekstra doesn’t address it in his text, but his consultants provide their schemas a number of times. Since “supper” plays a big role in the identity of the subject matter eateries, I’d have liked to see some engagement in the text with the semantics.

    Glad to see you’re continuing to find joy in new finds for your project–of course, it’s a huge topic, so I hope you’re not feeling overwhelmed.

    Best wishes,

    Michael McKernan Benson, Arizona

    On Sun, Jul 17, 2016 at 11:57 AM, Restaurant-ing through history wrote:

    > victualling posted: ” Summer is the season for flea markets. A day at > Brimfield this week yielded few thrills, unfortunately, yet I did find this > interesting postcard of a Newark NJ restaurant. Iffland’s was established > on Market street in Newark in 1867, just one year ” >

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