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Chapter 15

TEMPERANCE COFFEE-HOUSES AND FRIENDLY INNS.


The cure of a drunkard is always attended with peculiar difficulties. The cost is often great. Sometimes cure is found to be impossible. A hundred may be protected from the ravages of intemperance at the cost of saving one who has fallen a victim to the terrible malady. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

While so much is being done to reform and save the drunkard, the work of prevention has not been forgotten. Great good has been accomplished in this direction through the spread of total-abstinence principles. In this the various temperance organizations have done much, and especially with the rising generation. But, so long as men are licensed by the State to sell intoxicating drinks, the net of the tempter is spread on every hand, and thousands of the weak and unwary are yearly drawn therein and betrayed to their ruin. In our great cities large number of men who have to do business at points remote from their dwellings, are exposed to special temptations. The down-town lunch-room and dining-room have, in most cases, their drinking bars; or, if no bar is visible, the bill of fare offers in too many cases, any kind of intoxicating beverage that may be desired. Thousands of men are, in consequence, yearly led away from sobriety.

Seeing this, efforts have been made during the past few years to establish, cheap temperance coffee-houses, where workingmen and others may get a good noonday lunch, or a morning and evening meal at a trifling cost. In all cases, these have been found of great service to the cause of temperance. A pint mug of excellent coffee, with sugar and milk, and a large, sweet roll, costing five cents, are found to make a far better and healthier lunch than the highly-seasoned hashes and scraps called "free lunches," which must be washed down by a, five or ten-cent glass of liquor.


THE EXPERIMENT IN PHILADELPHIA.

The success which has attended the establishment of cheap temperance coffee-houses in this city (Philadelphia), is quite remarkable. In the fall of 1874, Joshua L. Baily, one of our active, clear-headed merchants, who had been for many years an earnest temperance man, determined to give the cheap coffee-house experiment a fair trial, cost what it might; for he saw that if it could be made successful, it would be a powerful agency in the work of prevention. He began in a modest way, taking a small store at the corner of Market and Fifteenth Streets, and fitting it up in a neat and attractive manner. With a few pounds of coffee, and a few dozens of rolls, the place was opened, the single attendant, a woman, acting the double part of cook and waiter. For five cents a pint mug of the best Java coffee, with milk and sugar, and a good-sized roll, were furnished.

From the very start "The Workingmen's Central Coffee-House," as Mr. Baily called it, was successful. In the immediate neighborhood five hundred workmen were employed on the city buildings, and opposite stood the Pennsylvania Railroad freight depot, to which came daily about the same number of men--draymen, teamsters and others. It took but a few days to so crowd the new coffee-room at the usual lunching time as to require an additional assistant. From day to day the business went on increasing, until more help and larger accommodations became necessary. Soon a complete kitchen had to be built in the basement, and the adjoining store added, in order to meet the steadily-enlarging demands upon the new establishment. The fame of the good coffee, which was better than most people found at home, spread far and near, and larger and larger numbers of clerks, workingmen and others, turned their steps daily, at lunch time, towards the Central Coffee-House. It was so much better than the poor stuff served in most of the eating-houses; and, with the sweet roll added, so much better than the free lunch and glass of beer or whisky with which too many had been accustomed to regale themselves.


SIGNAL SUCCESS.

Steadily swelled the tide of custom. Within a year a third store, adjoining, was added. But the enlarged premises soon proved inadequate to the accommodation of the still-increasing crowd.

At this writing "The Central" is from six to seven times larger than when first opened; and there lunch in its rooms, daily, nearly two thousand persons. One room has been fitted up for ladies exclusively, in which from forty to fifty can lunch at one time.

But Mr. Baily looked beyond the cheap coffee and rolls by which he was able to keep so many away from bar-rooms and restaurants where liquor was sold. He believed in other influences and safeguards. And to this end, and at his own cost, he fitted up the various rooms over the seven stores extending along Market Street from Fifteenth to Broad, in which the coffee-rooms are located, and set them apart for various uses. Here is a lecture-hall, capable of seating four hundred persons; a free reading-room, well warmed and lighted and supplied with the best daily newspapers, American and English illustrated publications, and the standard periodicals; besides four other rooms that will hold from seventy to one hundred persons, which are used for various meeting purposes, all in connection with temperance. Five regular services are held in the lecture-room every week, viz.: "Bible Reading," on Sunday afternoon; "Temperance Experience meeting," on Monday evening; "Prayer and Praise meeting," Tuesday evening; "Gospel Temperance meeting," on Thursday evening; and "Youths' Temperance meeting," Friday evening. These meetings are often crowded, and, like the coffee-rooms below, attract audiences made up from every rank in society. At many of these meetings, Mr. Baily presides in person.

Encouraged by the success of this first effort, Mr. Baily opened another cheap coffee-house in the very centre of the wholesale trade of the city, where thousands of clerks, workingmen and merchants were in the habit of resorting for lunch or dinner to the restaurants and bar-rooms in the neighborhood. This, located at No. 31 South Fourth Street, he called "The Model Coffee-House."


CROWDED FROM THE FIRST.

From the first it was crowded even to an uncomfortable extent. The demands of its patrons soon rendered larger quarters a necessity. A new building was erected specially adapted to the purpose, many novel features being introduced which a twelve-month's experience had suggested.

The new "Model" opened June 1st, 1876. Many persons thought it was too large, and that it would never be filled. But it was thronged on the day of opening, and on every day since the demands upon it have been fully up to its capacity. The number lunching here daily is about three thousand.

In the establishment of the coffee-houses there were, of course, many mistakes, the results of inexperience. Many things had to be unlearned as well as many learned. But mistakes were promptly corrected. With the growth of the work, ability to provide for it seemed to keep pace, and modifications in the management were adopted as necessity dictated. Not much was anticipated at the commencement beyond furnishing a mug of coffee and a roll of bread, but it soon became apparent that something more than this was needed. To meet this necessity, the coffee-house bill of fare was greatly extended, and now quite a variety of nutritious and substantial dishes are provided, and each at the uniform price of five cents. The main feature--the coffee--is, however, preserved. A full pint mug of the best Java (equal to two ordinary cups) with pure, rich milk and white sugar, and two ounces of either wheat or brown bread, all for five cents, is the every-day lunch of many a man who, but for this provision, would be found in the dram shop.

No dish, as we have said, costs over five cents, which is the standard price the year round, whatever the fluctuations of markets may be. In addition to the bread and coffee already mentioned for five cents, the bill of fare comprises puddings of rice, tapioca and corn starch, baked apples dressed with sugar and milk, all sorts of pies (half a pie being given for a portion), mushes of cracked wheat, corn and oatmeal, dumplings, eggs, potatoes, beans, ham, corned beef, liver, "scrapple," sausage, custards, soups, pickles and, in season, fresh fruits. Of bread, there are Boston and Philadelphia brown, wheat, Philadelphia and Vienna rolls. A pint glass of milk with a roll, costs five cents; butter three cents, and extra rolls one cent each; so that for ten or fifteen cents a man gets a full luncheon, as every portion of food is equal to a large saucer heaped.

These establishments require, of course, the most methodical, orderly and careful management, with capable matrons at the head of each, and a steward or superintendent to make intelligent purchases. At the "Model Coffee-House," there are nearly fifty employees, and, excepting three or four men, they are girls and women. The upper rooms of the building are for the lodgings, offices, laundry and drawing-room, for the use of the employees. The girls, who are mostly of country birth and training, are thus furnished with a good and safe home, where they have books and music, large and well-furnished chambers, a good table--they dine at one family table in their own dining-room--and have their washing and ironing done in the house. They are required to be neat and tidy in appearance, respectable and discreet in character and manner.


THE GOOD DONE.

The good that is done through an instrumentality like this can never be fully known. Of those who are drawn into paths of safety, we do not so often hear as of those who are led astray. But enough is already known of the good done by these two coffee-houses to give large encouragement for their establishment in other localities and other cities. Hundreds of young men who had fallen into the dangerous habit of taking a glass of beer every day with their lunch, now take a fragrant cup of coffee instead, and find themselves better for the change; hundreds more who had begun to feel the insidious encroachments of appetite, have been able to get out of the way of temptation.

The question that naturally arises with all who look practically at this matter is, whether there is any profit in the business of keeping a cheap temperance coffee-house? Can a pint of coffee, with sugar, milk and a two-ounce roll of bread, be furnished for five cents and leave any margin for profit? Mr. Baily's experiment has proved that it can.


FRIENDLY INNS.

But not alone in Philadelphia is the cheap coffee-house to be found. There are hundreds of them in our various towns and cities, though none on so large a scale as here; and they are rapidly multiplying and doing good. "The Friendly Inn," and "The Holly-Tree Inn," are places somewhat similar in character, but partaking more of the nature of an "inn" than a simple eating-house. These have, usually, a pleasant parlor, with light, and warmth, and books, into which, any one may come and pass the evening, instead of drifting into a saloon, and where cheap meals and lodgings can be had if needed. In Cleveland, Ohio, Christian temperance work, which is very large and effective, is carried on almost entirely in connection with "Friendly Inns," of which there are five. A chapel, reading-room, sleeping apartments and a cheap restaurant are maintained in connection with each of these inns. The women engaged in the cause of Gospel temperance in that city regard them as most valuable auxiliaries to the spiritual work in which they are engaged. In a large number of cases, they have been the direct means of bringing men in whom few traces of goodness could at first be discerned in such contact with religious influences as to win them over to a better life.


T.S. Arthur

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