Joe Knippenberg referred here to the imminent closing of Berghoffs, a traditional German restaurant in Chicago. Looking back, I tried to arrange a dinner there in early December for a Liberty Fund conference, and found the sales staff strangely unwilling to accommodate our groups needs. At the time I found it baffling, but now it makes perfect sense--a classic case of short timers attitude.
In my reference to the Jacob Wirth in Boston, I failed to mention one of its most striking characteristics--a gigantic old bar that occupies most of one wall. The workmanship is amazing, although it shows signs of wear; after all, its experienced over 125 years of heavy use. But what I found most interesting of all were the Latin words that appear near the top of the enormous structure: "Suum Cuique." Not having ever studied Latin, I asked the bartender (oddly, an Irish lass with a pronounced accent) what it meant. "To each his own," she replied. A damn fine thing to have on a bar, I think.
I also happened to notice one potential reason why the Jacob Wirth continues to do well--it serves a lot of American fare. Our table was close to the kitchen, and I think I saw more burgers than anything else going out to the diners.
Incidentally, I would steer Ohioans who enjoy German food to Zum Rathskeller, which for years was a private dining room for members of the Columbus Maennerchor. Today its open to the public, with a fine selection of authentic German foods. And when the Rathskeller has a sing-along, its real German beer-hall music. When we went to the Jacob Wirth for their sing-along, the piano player was banging out...The Eagles. And here I was, my lungs all set for a rousing chorus of "Du, du, liebst mir im Herzen," or, better yet, the "Schnitzelbank." I blame American cultural imperialism.