When I come across a julep strainer that has a business name on it, most likely a restaurant or hotel, the basic snoop in me compels me to research and find out all I can about it. Sometimes that’s difficult and time consuming. Other times it all comes together rather quickly. Such was the case with the Cafe L’Aiglon.
The julep strainer is a back tipped star pattern and marked with the R. Wallace stamp. The back of the handle is marked “Cafe L’Aiglon”.
My search almost immediately found an article from the February 17, 1909 issue of Printers’ Ink. And this article pretty much tells it all:
Cafe L’Aiglon was located on the corner of Fifteenth and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia. J. G. Patton, proprietor, opened the cafe in October of 1905.
The Printers’ Ink article mentions that J. G. Patton took over the space formerly occupied by “Stuart’s Restaurant”.
However, the following ad from The Philadelphia Record, April 12, 1905 edition, shows the correct spelling as “Stewart’s”.
For some reason, Stewart’s only remained in business a few months, as evidenced from the following October 23, 1905 Cafe L’Aiglon ad in The Philadelphia Record:
J. G. Patton realized that Philadelphia didn’t have a large transient population and that he needed to excite the interest of his clientele. He established a series of national nights… American, Italian, French, German and so on, ending with a grand International week. These theme nights were extremely well received and were then followed by theme weeks. The February 1908 issue of the American Carpet and Upholstery Journal paints a vivid picture of the Oriental theme extravaganza:
Local businesses supplied rare rugs and draperies (getting free advertising), a win – win situation for them and the Cafe. I especially like that last sentence “Oriental incense and queer little lamps burned constantly…” Doesn’t that sound enticing? If I had been in Philadelphia at that time, this would be a place I would have to visit. Definitely.
The ad shown above came from the 1908 Founder’s Week Official Program. And the following clever little ad came from Keith’s Theatre Program, May 29, 1911:
The following shows a corner of the main dining room circa 1909:
In June 1922, the first remote dance band radio program was aired in Philadelphia when WIP broadcast the big band music of the famous Charlie Kerr orchestra from the Cafe L’Aiglon.
It appears the cafe was also marketing food under their name. The following was taken from the June 5, 1923 Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office:
Of interest, “L’Aiglon” means “eaglet or young eagle” in French. It was also the nickname for Napoleon II. There was a play by that name produced in the early 1900s and quite a bit of interest in the “L’Aiglon”.
The photo shown above shows the view east from Sixteenth Street in Philadelphia. Cafe L’Aiglon is on the left side of the street.
And the above, showing a close-up of the entrance, came from the 1917 Sweet’s Architectural Catalog.
Cafe L’Aiglon closed in 1929. Not a bad run from 1905 to 1929!