Hoxsie was perusing some back numbers of “The Mixer & Server,” the official journal of the Hotel and Restaurant Employes [sic] International Alliance and the Bartenders International League of America (as one does) and came across this September 26, 1922 report by A. Martel, International Organizer, under the banner of “What Our Organizers Are Doing.” What Organizer Martel was doing was visiting a number of Schenectady establishments. We thought this was particularly interesting as it has several mentions of the Nicholaus Hotel (spelled variously), later just the Nicholaus German Restaurant, whose landmark building at the corner of Erie and State is now in danger of destruction because of the demolition of its neighbors.
His report is a nice little tour of the Schenectady eating establishments of 1922:
Dear Sir and Brother – The following is my report for the month of September:
August 28, as per instructions, I proceeded to Schenectady; met Secretary Geo. Harper of Local 470, with whom I took up the local situation.
August 29, visited the Mohawk Hotel; found one waiter, a former member of Local 471 of Albany; got his reinstatement. Visited the Nicholaus Hotel and talked to the chef, who is a former member of Local 470. Met the proprietor of the Italian Gardens Restaurant, a new place soon to open up.
August 30, visited the Mohawk Golf Club, where I found a Boston cook, a former member of Local 34; he will go to Italy this month so he don’t care to reinstate; the bartender and a kitchen helper promised to join. Again visited the Mohawk Hotel and had a talk with the chef. There are three cooks here, all former members of Local 470; their talk was not encouraging. Visited the Seneca, Hygienic and New Electric Lunches, also the Standard.
August 31, visited the Little Electric, Plaza, Italian Gardens, Nickolaus Hotel, Pelops and Mohawk.
September 1, in company with Secretary Harper, we made the rounds. I soon found out what the trouble was here and decided to use another method, although there was nothing encouraging in sight I was determined to give the town a good trial. The Greek restaurants are in the majority here and that makes it doubly hard.
I visited the Greek clubs daily and there found box, waiter and counter men, also the cooks, playing cards together. In time I got pretty well acquainted and kept hammering at them. They are working seven days per week and twelve hours per day; they admit this is too much but don’t think we could change anything by them joining the union. In the meantime I kept after the Mohawk Hotel cooks, who proved to be a hard bunch to deal with. The others says: [sic] “Get them at the Mohawk first,” etc.
Visited the Sirker Restaurant; the boss is chef; they employ seven girls, pay them $7 per week for ten hours a day and they scrub the dining room floor. One of our girls is there and she promised to join as soon as they get out. Had a talk with the proprietor of the Seneca Lunch; I think we will be able to organize his place if we can supply him with the right kind of help.
September 12, visited the Little Electric Lunch; got the reinstatement of one counter man and the application of the night counter man; the chef also filled out his application but has not paid up for it yet.
September 13, went to Albany and visited all the cooks I could reach (to pay their dues), also looked for a competent chef for the Italian Gardens here.
September 14, had an interview with the Rev. P. Frick of the Methodist Episcopal Church; one of the organizations of his church was eating at the Pelops, and he promised to ask them to remain away. Also had a talk with the Greek priest, but nothing came from it, as it was plain that he was siding with the bosses who feed him.
September 16, the chef of the Mohawk Hotel left, so I took his place; got the reinstatements of the two cooks and an application of a bus boy.
September 18, the chef returned with better wages; got his application also – this makes the Mohawk solid again.
September 19, met the chef and second cook of the Hygienic; got their applications.
September 20, to Albany, after the cooks again; got a chef for the Italian Gardens; he was working at the Hampton, so I got him out and he joined Local 470 here.
September 21, met the second cook of the General Electric Company, who promised to reinstate. Visited several other places; got one application at the Seneca.
September 22, got the application of the chef of the Nickolaus Hotel, and when the second cook joints this house will be complete. Visited Sirker’s again; two new girls here.
Charles Sirker was a Belgian who had come to the United States during World War I, and ran a restaurant at 155 Barrett Street. (We know this because Sirker was involved in an interesting little case of international divorce law.) That building is gone.
Pelops was located at 438 State Street, two doors from Proctor’s. Searches will turn up a postcard of the white tablecloth interior, and a matchbook.
It’d be our guess that the Seneca was the Seneca Hotel, still a landmark on Jay Street across from City Hall.
The Mohawk Golf Club was, and is, out on Union Street.
The Hygienic Lunch was located at 436 State Street, and later at 412 State Street, “near street railway waiting station.” One of its original proprietors was Theodore Anagnost, who became Theodore Agnew. His son Spiro would later become Vice President of the United States. But it would appear that Agnew was long gone from the Electric City when Martel made his visit.
Albany’s Hampton Hotel, of course, was the landmark at the foot of State Street at Broadway; the building still stands.
Of the Little Electric Lunch (such a promising name) or the Italian Gardens, we find nothing.
And the Nicholaus Hotel actually predated the currently building, which goes back to 1901 and may just survive.