13 January 2024

Mammy’s Chicken Inn, Salt Lake City

Mammy's Chicken Inn menu cover, Salt Lake City
Image adapted from worthpoint

Mammy’s Chicken Inn was located at 890 W 2100 South (now Flying J Travel Center parking lot). This is a new one for me.

The restaurant was owned by George Gerard-Theodoracopulos) (1891-1965) who was born in Crete, Greece, and came to SLC in 1910, and his wife Mary L. H. Gerard, originally from Grand Junction, Colorado, and came to SLC in 1917.

The Gerards (as they were commonly known) were associated with several restaurants throughout the years including Mammy’s Chicken Inn, Silver Slipper, Charlott Club, Streamliner, and Dahlia Inn. And many of these got into some trouble with the law regarding bootlegging, bribery, and gambling devices.

The Silver Slipper Inn operated about 1930-1941 and is notable for its location at 3100 Highland Drive, just down the street from another restaurant owned by a different family but also using racist icons, the Coon Chicken Inn at 2960 Highland Drive, which operated 1925-1957.

The Coon Chicken Inn featured an overembellished character of a bald Black man with a porter’s cap. I have posted about this in the past and there is a Wikipedia page on this one.

The Gerards opened Mammy’s Chicken Inn in 1947 at the corner of 900 West and 2100 South SLC. It used the Mammy caricature throughout its branding, including on menus and souvenirs. I could not find a photo of the restaurant but the illustration on the menu shows a large Mammy sign on top of the building’s entrance.
Mammy's Chicken Inn menu. Image adapted from worthpoint
Mammy's Chicken Inn menu. Image adapted from worthpoint

Mammy's Chicken Inn menu. Image adapted from worthpoint

Mammy's Chicken Inn advertisements, from the Salt Lake Tribune

The last reference I could find to Mammy’s Chicken Inn being operational was their New Year’s Eve advertisement in December 1960. By this time, the Coon Chicken Inn had already closed.

In SLC (and presumably elsewhere) the term “Mammy Chicken” was used to describe the style of fried chicken as well as to infer authenticity.

I found other references to the use of the term Mammy Chicken for Utah restaurants. A selection of those: 
  • 1919: A “real colored mammy” Mammy Margette at Roselawn 4374 Highland Drive
  • 1930: Delicious Mammy Fried Chicken, Cabaret Dancing after 9 pm, at Blue Moon Car Service, 3618 Highland Drive
  • 1931: Mammy’s Friend Chicken at Glaus’ Coffee Shop, cooked by a different process, 169 S Main SLC
  • 1937: Home Cooked Food, Mammy Fried Chicken at Sugar House Café 1058 E 2100 S
  • 1941: Mammy Fried Chicken and J. Dean’s Rhythm Boys at Dixieland Tavern, Ogden Highway
  • 1948: Mammy Fried Chicken, Home Cooked Meals, Ethel’s Café in Roy, Utah

For additional historical context:
  • 1889: Aunt Jemima as a Mammy caricature
  • 1909: NAACP founded in NYC
  • 1919: Salt Lake Branch of the NAACP founded
  • 1925: Lynching of Robert Marshall in Price, Utah
  • 1954: Brown v. Board of Education
  • 1955: Emmitt Till murder, Rosa Parks bus arrest
  • 1960: MLK and others were arrested for a sit-in protest
  • 1963: MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech and the March on Washington
  • 1978: LDS Church Official Declaration 2 removed the racial restriction of priesthood

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