A little trivia follows and how the triva inspired a blog post about vintage restaurantware and the Homer Laughlin Bridge.
Before we tell you about the bridge, what we really want to say is how incredibly cool old restaurantware is! Restaurantware is practically indestructable, wears like iron and came in some really cool patterns and colors that would pair nicely with all the other funky junk in your kitchen and for unknown reasons is out of vogue right now.
That means that you can find some really cool old restaurantware from the likes of Buffalo, Homer Laughlin, Syracuse, Shenango, Iroquois and Mayer at a great price.
It seems a bit ironic that restaurantware hasn't been shaken and stirred with other industrial elements that create the look and feel of "funky junk." Perhaps, we are trendsetters after all.
Homer Laughlin Bridge
Commonly refered to as the "Homer Laughlin Bridge," the Newell Toll Bridge was originally built in 1904-05 by the Newell Bridge Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Homer Laughlin China Company.
The Newell Toll Bridge, over the Ohio River, connected the "works" in Newell where the manufacturing took place and corporate where a different kind of "works" took place.
So it seems that in years past in order to work at Homer Laughlin making restaurantware you paid a toll to get to work. That's right, if you wanted to work at the "works" of Homer Laughlin, and you lived on the wrong side of the Ohio, then you paid a toll every day to "Homer" to walk across "his" bridge to get to "his" factory and your job.
Source of Inspiration for this blog post
Invited to attend the International Food and Beverage Forum's Hall of Fame Summit, Agent 99 found herself at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas last November dining with several seasoned "tableware" salesmen who over the years had represented many of the more recognizable brands in restaurantware --Syracuse, Wallace, Buffalo, Shenango, Iroquois, Mayer, Homer Laughlin . . . brands she knew from the secondary, vintage tableware market. They shared histories, including the history of what they called the, "Homer Laughlin Bridge." Out of the conversation 99 learned that:
By their account, all of the "American" tableware manufacturers, those that supplied restaurants, hotels, casinos, railroads, country clubs and convention centers with their place settings, did themselves in by not seeing the competition in their rear view mirror. Sort of like how the American automobile manufacturers didn't see the Japanese manufacturers as competition until market share was lost forever.
Today, RAK Porcelain is the largest restaurant and tableware manufacturer in the world. They produce some of the finest wares these salesman had ever seen. RAK Pocelain is based in Ras Al-Khaimah (UAE) with corporate offices in Luxembourg.
You can confirm the contents of this blog post with a few tableware salesmen and more than a few hospitality executives with job titles that begin with "Vice President of . . . " by attending the International Food and Beverage Forum's Hall of Fame Summit in Las Vegas November 16-19th, 2011 where you can rub elbows with food and beverage executives from around the world, learn how to pair wine and listen to tenors and sopranos while you relax after consuming some of the most extrordinary food you've ever eaten . . . click here for more info!