A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 11, 2011
Salad Bar

The “salad bar” was announced in April 1937 newspaper articles—the “bar” being a glorified tea wagon on which salad ingredients were placed. The Boston Oyster House of the Morrison Hotel in Chicago (IL) offered a “salad bar” by at least August 1939—a table with 30 bowls of salad ingredients, where diners could mix their own salads. Wesson Oil advertised the “salad bar” (a table of salad ingredients for self-mixing) for home entertaining in the May 27, 1940 Life magazine.

Salad bars became popular in American restaurants in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Wikipedia: Salad bar
A salad bar is a buffet-style table or counter at a restaurant on which salad components are provided for customers to assemble their own salad plates. Most salad bars provide lettuce, chopped tomatoes, assorted raw, sliced vegetables (such as cucumbers, carrots, celery and green or red bell peppers), dried bread croutons, bacon bits, shredded cheese, and various types of salad dressing. Some salad bars also have additional food items such as cooked cold meats (e.g., chicken and ham), cooked beans (e.g., chick peas or kidney beans), deviled eggs, cold pasta salads, corn chips, bread rolls, soup, and fresh cut fruit slices.

History
There is a dispute over which restaurant first introduced the salad bar. A 1951 Yellow Pages listing refers to the “salad bar buffet” at Springfield, Illinois restaurant The Cliffs. Hawaiian restaurant Chuck’s Steak House claims to have had the first salad bar in the 1960s. Rax Restaurants – a Midwestern fast food chain similar to Arby’s – claims to have pioneered the salad bar in the mid-1960s. The New York Times claims that salad bars first began appearing in the late 1960s “in midprice restaurants like Steak and Ale, featuring bona fide salad fixings to keep customers busy and happy until the real food came.” Restaurant entrepreneur Norman Brinker has been credited with inventing and popularizing the salad bar.

In the 1970s, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises was based on salad bar-style food. In the early 1970s, Rich Melman’s Chicago restaurant and singles bar R. J. Grunts featured an all-you-can-eat salad bar with over 40 items. The Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, claims that the term originated in about 1973. Fitness expert Richard Simmons opened a restaurant devoted exclusively to salads called Ruffage as a complement to his exercise business. It later closed.

Types of salad bars
Customers pay for either “all-you-can-eat” salad bar, a single serving, or by weight.

Many supermarkets also include a salad bar (at which customers pay for by weight) in the produce or delicatessen section.

Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
salad bar noun
Definition of SALAD BAR
: a self-service counter (as in a restaurant) featuring an array of salad makings and dressings
First Known Use of SALAD BAR
1937

(Oxford English Dictionary)
salad bar n. chiefly U.S. a servery from which a salad may be obtained.
1976 Amer. Speech 1974 49 116 *Salad bar, counter in many restaurants, with ingredients from which the diner can make his own salad.
1978 Times 23 Apr. 12/6 The‥assistant manageress‥led me to the salad bar with its two kinds of salad, four kinds of bread and four kinds of salad dressing.

21 October 1932, Mexia (TX) Weekly Herald, “Latest Soda Fountain Is Put In Here,” pg. 4, col. 7:
One of the finest soda fountains in Texas has been installed at the Kendrick & Horn drug store— an 18-foot Frigidaire equipped fountain, complete with stainless steel interior, counter of French and Belgium imported marble. The fountain presents a modern appearance, has all of the latest sanitary equipment, with a salad bar and toaster section for salads and luncheons.

4 April 1937, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, This Week magazine, pg. 18:
SALAD BAR
TAKES A BOW
And all those to whom salad-making
is an art applaud, an an invaluable aid, this
new “star” in home equipment
by ELOISE DAVISON
AND now a salad bar—and why not?

8 April 1937, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 32, col. 2:
Salad Bars
Innovation in
Home Serving


Tea Wagons Easily Converted
Into Popular Device for
Intriguing Guest Meals

By MARTHA LEE
SOME 20 years ago tea wagons were quite popular. Since then they have had their ups and downs—but for the most part they drifted out of the picture, and you found very few models from which to choose if you went to a furniture store.

Since repeal there have been the bar versions of tables on wheels and other types of wheeled refreshment trays. And now still another idea has sprung up—so for goodness sake go rescue your old tea wagon, get it up from the basement or down from the attic, do a polishing job on it, cover it with gay linen cloth and presto you now have a 1937 salad bar.

No, it doesn’t have to be a tea wagon, but for most homes that will be the most satisfactory. If you are fortunate enough to own an old Welsh dresser, you have a marvelous chance to turn it into this new and usable household appointment.

24 February 1938, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, pg. 19, col. 1:
Air-conditioned electric refrigeration, radio broadcast attractions, bonbon dipping and a “salad bar” will be among the many interestin features presented.
("Homemakers Fair”—ed.)

August 1939, Western Hotel Reporter, pg. 26, col. 1:
Morrison Hotel Has New Type of Salad Bar
A salad bar has been introduced in the Boston Oyster House of the Morrison Hotel in Chicago that consists of a refrigerated table on which are placed 30 glass bowls, in ice, containing every conceivable type of greens such as lettuce, endive, broccoli, etc., as well as a variety of cooked and fresh vegetables in season which can be used to make up combination salads. Also on the bar are bowls of Julienne chicken, ham, fresh crab flakes, beef, anchovies, tuna fish and shrimps which are used to garnish the salads. Eight varieties of dressing are used—Thousand Island, French, Special, V. O. H., Vinaigrette, Mineral Oil, Roquefort, Mayonnaise, and Lorenzo.

Google Books
27 May 1940, Life magazine, pg. 63, col. 2 ad:
On what new way to entertain do these famous people agree?
It’s the Wesson Salad Bar!

Yes, these famous people agree on the smartness of the Wesson Salad Bar—and passing along to you this fresh idea for buffet supper, large bridge party, or whenever you entertain informally.

You arrange your Salad Bar in the dining room—buffet style. And then invite your guests to step up and “mix their own.” They start with the cool, crisp salad greens brightened with Wesson Oil and seasonings.

12 July 1940, Dallas (TX) Morning News, sec. III, pg. 7:
Buffet Style
Salad Bar
Aids Hostess

The problem of entertaining a dozen or more people in a modest-sized dining room without a servant has given women desperate qualms and ostess-jitters for a long time. Clever women now have solved this problem for summertime entertaining by inventing a salad bar. The bar is set up buffet style.

Salad greens are mixed with a good dressing and put in a huge salad bowl. Other salad-makings—meats, cheeses, relished—are placed on separate serving dishes and arranged around the salad bowl and down the table. This gives guests an opportunity to be served first with the greens from the salad bowl and then they can go around the table choosing whatever they like best in their salad. Having chosen, they toss those ingredients together with the greens, Then they just find themselves a place to sit, and they sit there, enjoying the grandest salad they could have—the salad they have selected and made themselves.

7 September 1940, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 18, col. 6:
Salad Bar Novel
Idea When Club
Meets With You

If the club is meeting at your house—go original with a buffet that will please your guests’ palates and diet schedules as well. Serve an assortment of salads and dressings, and let them take their choice.

3 May 1941, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, pg. 12, cols. 4-6:
Salad Bar Lets Guests Mix Their Own
One more vogue in salad arrangements, the salad bar. Simply make a selection of salad materials, arrange them invitingly, and let the guests do the rest. It is an excellent plan for late evening snacks, and for the buffet supper.

Some of your friends you will find combining greens with a tangy sauce; others will prefer fruits and greens; still others, the vegetables and cheese. Whatever they like, it is before them, and the worries of the hostess are banished.

8 June 1941, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, All Feature Section, pg. 4, cols. 2-3:
The Salad Bar
The “Salad Bar” has grown in popularity of late. It is simply an arrangement of salad materials on a platter or platters and trays, which permit the guests to help themselves, making the salads of their individual choice. It is a part of the buffet service. There may be several greens, for example, lettuce, a bowl of watercress, and another in season; a bowl of vegetables, each kind arranged separately; or a platter of fruits; or both, maybe an assortment of cheeses and a choice of salad dressings.

21 April 1942, Oregonian (Portland, OR), sec. 2, pg. 1, col. 5:
Fixings for a “Mix Your Own” Salad Bar

13 April 1944, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, pg. 18, col. 3:
The Salad Bar Is the Latest in “Hostessry”—Bar None

Dining Out in Hollywood and Los Angeles
By Craig Davidson
Assisted by Harry Mynatt
1949
Pg. 41: 
(House of Murphy restaurant—ed.)
The Salad Bar naturally offers Di Cicco salad as its specialty, because Bob Murphy was the originator of this savory dish, which is closely akin to Caesar salad.

July 1949, Good Housekeeping, pg. 122, col. 2:
Salad-Bar Luncheon

Google Books
November 1949, Changing Times (The Kiplinger Magazine), pg. 36:
Honolulu, T.H.—Waikiki restaurant. E. Gamage, once a New England lawyer, now runs a prosperous restaurant at Waikiki Beach.
(...)
But Gamage believed that good food served in pleasant surroundings at modest prices would be bought. He knew, too, that salads are popular everywhere but felt that something should be done about the skimpy servings of dressing.

“In my restaurant,” he declared, “I’ll serve a big bowl of dressing for salads from which the customer can help himself.” And why not have different kinds of ingredients at a table so the customer can even make his own salads?

Thus developed the idea of a salad bar, or salad smorgasbord, to go with the dinner.

September 1954, American Restaurant magazine, pg. 58, col. 1:
Customers Like to Make Salads
WITH a Salad Bar where guests may make up their own salad from a wide choice of ingredients, and a fruit bar where breakfast guests may make a selection of fresh fruits for their morning meal, Neiman’s Good Food in Gatlinburg, Tenn., has built a wide reputation for unusal food service.

Always on the lookout for new ideas, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Neiman, operators of the restaurant, discovered the salad bar idea while vacationing in Hawaii some years ago and adapted it to their operation.
(...)(Col. 3—ed.)
Started 17 years ago, Neiman’s has served over three-quarters of a million guests.

The restaurant was established in 1938 as a small dining room and counter service operation with less than 20 seats.
Pg. 59 photo:
NEIMAN’S
GOOD FOOD
HOME OF THE SALAD BAR

16 April 1973, Nation’s Restaurant News, pg. 2, cols. 1-5:
Salad Bars: almost a regular menu item

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 11, 2011 • Permalink