News / 12.2.15

Throwback Thursday – Mayflower Coffee Shop

"As you travel on through life brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole."

This week’s Epstein Throwback Thursday takes us back to Chicago 1949 for the opening of the Epstein designed and engineered Mayflower Coffee Shop at 1017 N. Rush Street. This quaint little outlet, which in ’49 was one of 24 Mayflower establishments located throughout the US, featured not only coffee, but hamburgers, corned beef hash, waffles, pancakes and their specialty – Doughnuts, or as Mayflower marketed them, and Homer Simpson would eventually call them – Donuts. Mayflower’s ‘Donuts’ came in a few flavors – plain, sugared and cinnamon – which cost 5 cents in ’49 or you could also get a 10 cent frosted version, or if you really felt like splurging, a Donut a la Mode could be yours for 15 cents. As Homer would say – ‘Mmm, donuts!"

Every Mayflower Coffee Shop also featured the prominent presentation of the Optimist’s Creed which was printed on every box of donuts and also appeared throughout the store. This ‘motto’ was, "As you travel on through life brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole’ and at Mayflower this saying was usually framed by two cartoon jesters, one frowning at a thin doughnut with a large hole, the other grinning at a plump one with almost no hole at all. (Looks like the grumpy clown wasn’t applying the Creed!)

This particular outlet on Rush Street was in existence in Chicago until 1970 when the Mayflower chain shut down after losing its customer base to national chains Dunkin Donuts and Winchell’s Donut House. If you are curious, the restaurant Nico Osteria, which features Italian seafood specialties, cocktails & wines and is located on the ground level of the Thompson Hotel, is located where Mayflower once stood. Donuts to Seafood – not something that Homer would necessarily approve of, but if Nico has an all you can eat buffet - then Mr. Simpson might begrudgingly support. And yes, we watch too much TV.