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Gone But Not Forgotten - Don Roth's Blackhawk Traditional Cache

Hidden : 09/05/2010
2 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

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Geocache Description:

I can't believe I'll never have another spinning salad here . . . sigh!


From Wikipedia:

Otto Roth opened The Blackhawk on December 27, 1920 at 139 N. Wabash in Chicago. In September 1926, The Blackhawk began featuring a dance orchestra, Carlton Coon-Joe Sanders and their Kansas City Nighthawks. In addition to providing dance music for the local diners, the music from the Blackhawk was broadcast nationally as "Live! From the Blackhawk!" over WGN Radio and the Mutual Network.

By the time Coon-Sanders moved on from the Blackhawk in 1931, the broadcasts from the Blackhawk were so popular that a telegraph machine was installed so they could take remote requests. The Coon-Sanders band was followed by a rotating crop of musicians which, over the years, included Kay Kyser, Chico Marx, Louis Prima, Ish Kabibble and many more. Mel Torme, whose first paying performance occurred at the Blackhawk in 1929, also became a frequent performer at the Blackhawk. In 1938, Bob Haggart of Bob Crosby and the Bobcats composed "Big Noise from Winnetka" at the Blackhawk.

In 1944, Don Roth (1913-2003) inherited the Blackhawk upon the death of his father. Roth used his experience as a theatrical booker to increase the restaurant's reputation in and outside Chicago.

When the Blackhawk stopped featuring orchestras in 1952 and removed the bandstand and the dance floor, Don Roth declared the restaurant's theme was "The Food's the Show" and focused on the house specialty of prime rib served from carts brought to the tables and its "spinning salad bowl." Waiters would bring a large bowl of greens set into a larger bowl of ice. As they spun it, the waiters would add ingredients and describe what they were doing to the diners. Roth borrowed these concepts from Lawry's in Beverly Hills, California.

The Blackhawk remained open until August 31, 1984.

Don Roth's Blackhawk

In 1969, Don Roth opened a second restaurant, Don Roth's Blackhawk, in the northwest Chicago suburb of Wheeling, Illinois. This location, which was later decorated with photos and memorabilia from the original Blackhawk, remained in business until December 31, 2009, when Roth's widow, Ann, nearing 90, elected to close the restaurant. Don Roth's Blackhawk continued to feaure the "Spinning Salad Bowl" and prime rib.

Don Roth's Blackhawk Spinning Bowl Dressing

The signature spinning salad featured two kinds of dressing, one of which the restaurant had specially bottled.


From 1952 until the restaurant closed its doors, servers would pour dressing over a whirling bowl of greens, reciting:

This is our famous Blackhawk spinning salad bowl consisting of 21 ingredients, including a variety of fresh pulled greens. First we spin the bowl and apply the basic dressing. Next we add a bit of special seasoning, and then some chopped egg. We mix the salad a total of six times only, very gently, three now and three times later in order not to bruise the tender greens. Next we add some freshly ground pepper and our special blue cheese dressing. We now mix the salad three more times. And serve — topped with anchovies or shrimp.

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