Housekeeping on a Gigantic Scale (Dec, 1924)

All of the pictures in this article are great, but I particularly like the fact that they gave music classes to pages so that their voices were pleasing to guests.

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Housekeeping on a Gigantic Scale

Factory Methods of Standardized Production Applied Even to Serving of Your Meals by Modern Hotels

TO the manager upstairs in his private office, the kitchen of a great hotel is simply a factory where perhaps 10,000 products are made to order in the space of two hours and delivered within fifteen minutes. Quantity production and standardization of service have made housekeeping possible on a wholesale scale. If each individual waiter and bus boy were permitted to perform his tasks in what he believed the best way there would be such a scurrying and running about that hopeless disorder would result. Therefore the great restaurants and hotels have established a system to control every move. When you take your seat at the table, the bus boy and waiter perform certain tasks while you study the menu. They place the silver, provide napkins, bread, butter, possibly service plates, glasses of chopped ice, and finally the water carafe. In one great hotel chain, when two diners are being served, the water is exactly the thirty-ninth item which goes on the table, and, before the dinner has been finished, 100 or more separate articles will have been produced, used, and then removed.

The food – service department shows housekeeping on a huge scale at its best, and here the mechanical appliances which save time primarily are most abundant. The hotel steward, looking over past records, can tell how many guests probably will order soft-boiled eggs on any given day of the year, but getting them boiled and served is another matter, which probably would keep an army of cooks busy, were it not for the mechanical egg boiler. Clockwork, driven by a lead weight, or a small electric motor, furnishes the motive power, and when an order for eggs comes, the cook drops them in a metal basket, lowers it into a tank of boiling water, and sets the indicator for the time required, at the expiration of which the eggs are automatically lifted from the water. The slicing of bread offers another opportunity for a machine to give satisfaction to the guests by a uniform product, in addition to saving material. A revolving circular disk divides the loaf with a smooth motion, while a ratchet advances the bread just the width of another slice, for the next cut. The cold-meat slicer works on a similar principle, and the vegetable parer used principally for potatoes and carrots is another example.

Aside from appliances for handling food, there are several instances of time-saving in the serving and housekeeping departments of the great hotel. The telautograph ably supplements the intercommunication service of the telephone, saving time for messages which do not require direct conversation between sender and receiver, as the handwriting inscribed at the transmitter is reproduced at the receiving instrument.

The telephone installation is, of course, the major means of communication and it may easily equal that of a good-sized central office. In one hotel the branch exchange serves 3,340 telephone instruments, seventy operators being required to handle the calls.

Standardization of service, equipment and supplies, however, does not stop with the kitchens and dining rooms. One hotel system, for example, has made a study of every item of equipment, from carpets to chinaware, and tries to produce anything which could be manufactured by itself more cheaply than it could be purchased in the market. This company built a decorating furnace and now buys all china in the white and does its own decorating.

The same group of hotels, in its factory, operates an upholstery shop, candy factory, printing plant, a garment factory and a furniture-repair plant. Standardization also has been extended to such articles as table linen, glassware, soaps and cleaning materials, and even such staples as baking powder, olive oil, vanilla extract, coffee and canned goods. As a result $350,000 has been released from the inventory and $100,000 a year saved.

The modern hotel manager, therefore, is justified in thinking of his plant as a factory which takes interchangeable parts and fits them together into a custom-made product, no matter whether it is room service and equipment or your dinner.

  1. Nick Moffitt says: August 23, 20076:48 am

    I recognize the hotel as the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, on the corner of Market and New Montgomery streets. See my photos of this famous hotel midway down…

  2. Charlie says: August 23, 200710:42 am

    Nice pictures! I really like that restaurant atrium.

  3. Firebrand38 says: August 23, 200712:15 pm

    Thanks Nick! I was hoping that someone would identify it. I found their website with a virtual tour page as well.…

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