A LOOK BACK AT THE IVANHOE RESTAURANT
All the romance of medieval ages
Dining-Dancing-Entertainment in the Enchanted Forest
Weird Catacombs, 300 feet below
King Richard’s PlayHouse
Friar Tuck’s Cellarage
The Black Knights Inn
“A Luxury You Can Afford”
Obviously someone had “tongue in cheek” when they titled the Ivanhoe “The Seventh Wonder of Chicago”. One wonders what numbers one through six were…
Rumored to be the site of a Speakeasy during prohibition, the Ivanhoe went legit in the ‘30’s becoming a very popular medieval-themed restaurant.
In the 1940’s and ‘50’s up to 10,000 Chicagoans passed through its doors each week.
Guests coming into the Ivanhoe would take an “elevator” down to supposedly great depths and then let them off at the same floor; at the entrance of a dimly lit corridor to the popular tavern, the Catacombs.
IVANHOE “ME TOO” MOMENT
According to a 1947 newspaper “In the passageway three men dressed as skeletons would harass the ladies and their escorts which keep the guests screaming and happy”.
COLORS AND VARIATIONS
The skull swizzle stick of Ivanhoe Fame was manufactured over the years in various colors. Ivory, Yellow, Black, White, Red, Green and a variety in Pastel Hues.
One I know of dated back to the early 50’s was pale yellow. Sticks came in bright colors (Red, Green, Yellow and Black), in pastels (light blue, yellow and pink). But just recently I came across these beauties in plastic “chrome” finish, Gold, Bronze and Clear.
All read on the front:
IVANHOE - DINING & DANCING - CHICAGO
On the back, along with their individual names, they read:
RELIC FROM THE CATACOMBS
and had the name of a medieval character: King Richard, Prince John, Little John, Friar Tuck, Black Knight, De Bois-Guilbert, Allan A Dale, Front-De-Boeuf, Robin Hood and Wamba.
Alas, poor Rowena never had a stick in her name.
STILL MORE COLORS
Recent color discoveries include: Marbled, Grey, Tan and dark blue.
The sticks bear no manufacturers mark, but there was a change in manufacture over the years from a softer rubbery plastic to the current hard plastic. The older have slightly more detail suggesting they may have been used as the mold for the later model.
THE IGNOBLE END: BINNY’S LIQUORS
It was a sad day when a fire finally ended the Ivanhoe era; final closing for good in 1979 (reopened as a chain liquor store, Binny’s Beverage Depot).
At one point in time Binny's held wine tastings in the former Catacombs; don’t know if they still do...
Swizzles came with drinks, but were also sold in souvenir sites. Some in a plastic cylinder, some in a gift box and some in a cardboard box featuring a drawing of a coffin and the phrase “The Knights are Dust, their Good Swords Rust; their Souls are with the Saints we trust”. If you ever find this box, please (begging here) sell it to me.