You are here
UNLV Special Collections houses one of the largest menu collections in the United States. While local menus had been collected for a number of years, the collection became notable with the purchase in 1970 of a private collection of 19th and early 20th century menus from across the United States and Europe. This collection was purchased from Mrs. Marion Bohn Knutson, the daughter of Henry J. Bohn, owner, publisher and editor of The Hotel World magazine in Chicago from 1879 until his death in 1930. Henry Bohn had purchased Henri Bettoni’s Recueil de Menus to add to his own personal collection. Henri Bettoni was a London restaurateur of the late 19th century, manager of a number of London restaurants including the Tracadero, Kuhn’s, Kissel’s Tivoli, the Globe, and the Savoy Hotel. He had also managed Haxell’s Hotel in Brighton. The Bohn-Bettoni Collection comprised approximately 1500 menus dating from 1874 to 1933. Bohn’s own collection derived principally from the American Midwest while the Bettoni collection was predominantly British and French with examples from German and other European cities. The Bettoni Collection was pasted in a large leather-bound volume. The bulk of Bohn’s collection were likewise pasted into scrapbooks, but a large number of menus remained loose.
These menus have now been removed, to the extent safely possible, from their original bindings and scrapbook pages, and are now housed in acid-free folders and boxes.
|View a Selection of the Bohn-Bettoni Menus|
With the encouragement and support of Mr. Jerry Vallen, Dean of the UNLV School of Hotel Administration, and Mr. Hal Erickson, Director of the UNLV Library, Special Collections expanded on this original collection, adding menus from Las Vegas restaurants as well as requesting menus from winners of the National Restaurant Association’s “Menu Idea Exchange” and from recognized award winning restaurants across the country. Private menu collections were also received from noted local restaurateurs, chefs, food critics and authors. Notable donors have been Muriel Stevens noted columnist and food editor for the Las Vegas Sun who also hosted celebrity food programs on local television and radio, and Vern Lanegrasse, the “Hollywood Chef”, a Los Angeles food columnist, radio and television host. Donors have also included faculty and staff in the library and Hotel College, including Dean Vallen himself. The collection is national and eclectic in scope, numbers over 4000 menus and documents a fairly comprehensive history of dining in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas resort hotels had always featured as an attraction of fine (and sometimes not so fine) dining. When the famous Flamingo Hotel opened in late December of 1946, its private invitation welcomed guests to its “Café-Restaurant-Casino”. The early showrooms were also restaurants, like the Desert Inn’s Painted Desert Room, and became showpieces for the hotel. In 1966 Caesars Palace opened its famous “Bacchanal Room” under local celebrity chef Nat Hart, and award-winning gourmet dining reached new prominence as an important and lucrative facet of the themed Las Vegas resort hotel experience. For a history of Las Vegas dining see “50 Years of Dining on the Las Vegas Strip”
|View a Selection of the Las Vegas Restaurant Menus|