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N.B.—This Establishment is conducted on the
strictest business principles, with the full intention
of making it self-supporting, so that every one
may frequent it with a feeling of perfect independence.

The assistance of all frequenting the Depôt is
confidently expected in checking anything
interfering with the comfort, quiet, and regularity of the

Please do not destroy this Hand Bill, but hand it to
       some other person whom it may interest.

This Self-Supporting Cooking Depôt (not a
very good name, and one would rather give it
an English one) had hired a newly-built
warehouse that it found to let; therefore it was not
established in premises specially designed for
the purpose. But, at a small cost they were
exceedingly well adapted to the purpose: being
light, well ventilated, clean, and cheerful. They
consisted of three large rooms. That on the
basement story was the kitchen; that on the
ground floor was the general dining-room; that
on the floor above, was the Upper Room referred
to in the hand-bill, where the Public Dinner at
fourpence-halfpenny a head was provided every
day. The cooking was done, with much economy
of space and fuel, by American cooking-stoves,
and by young women not previously brought up
as cooks; the walls and pillars of the two dining
rooms were agreeably brightened with
ornamental colours; the tables were capable of
accommodating six or eight persons each; the
attendants were all young women, becomingly
and neatly dressed, and dressed alike. I think
the whole staff was female, with the exception
of the steward or manager.

My first inquiries were directed to the wages
of this staff; because, if any establishment claiming
to be self-supporting, live upon the spoliation
of anybody or anything, or eke out a
feeble existence by poor mouths and beggarly
resources (as too many so-called Mechanics'
Institutions do), I make bold to express my
Uncommercial opinion that it has no business
to live, and had better die. It was made clear
to me by the account-books, that every person
employed was properly paid. My next inquiries
were directed to the quality of the provisions
purchased, and to the terms on which they were
bought. It was made equally clear to me that
the quality was the very best, and that all
bills were paid weekly. My next inquiries
were directed to the balance-sheet for the last
two weeksonly the third and fourth of the
establishment's career. It was made equally
clear to me, that after everything bought was
paid for, and after each week was charged
with its full share of wages, rent and taxes,
depreciation of plant in use, and interest on
capital at the rate of four per cent per annum,
the last week had yielded a profit of (in
round numbers) one pound ten; and the
previous week a profit of six pounds ten. By this
time I felt that I had a healthy appetite for the

It had just struck twelve, and a quick
succession of faces had already begun to appear at
a little window in the wall of the partitioned
space where I sat looking over the books.
Within this little window, like a pay-box at a
theatre, a neat and brisk young woman presided
to take money and issue tickets. Every one
coming in must take a ticket. Either the
fourpence-halfpenny ticket for the upper room (the
most popular ticket, I think), or a penny ticket
for a bowl of soup, or as many penny tickets as
he or she chose to buy. For three penny tickets
one had quite a wide range of choice. A plate
of cold beef and potatoes; or a plate of cold ham
and potatoes; or a plate of hot minced beef and
potatoes; or a bowl of soup, bread and cheese,
and a plate of plum-pudding. Touching what
they should have, some customers on taking
their seats fell into a reveriebecame mildly
distractedpostponed decision, and said in bewilderment,
they would think of it. One old man I
noticed when I sat among the tables in the lower
room, who was startled by the bill of fare, and
sat contemplating it as if it were something of
a ghostly nature. The decision of the boys was
as rapid as their execution, and always included

There were several women among the diners,
and several clerks and shopmen. There were
carpenters and painters from neighbouring buildings
under repair, and there were nautical men,
and there were, as one diner observed to me,
"some of most sorts." Some were solitary,
some came two together, some dined in parties
of three or four, or six. The latter talked
together, but assuredly no one was louder than
at my club in Pall-Mall. One young fellow
whistled in rather a shrill manner while he
waited for his dinner, but I was gratified to
observe that he did so in evident defiance of my
Uncommercial individuality. Quite agreeing
with him, on consideration, that I had no
business to be there, unless I dined like the
rest, I "went in," as the phrase is, for

The room of the fourpence-halfpenny
banquet had, like the lower room, a counter in
it, on which were ranged a great number of cold
portions ready for distribution. Behind this
counter, the fragrant soup was steaming in deep
cans, and the best-cooked of potatoes were fished
out of similar receptacles. Nothing to eat was
touched with the hand. Every waitress had
her own tables to attend to. As soon as she
saw a new customer seat himself at one of her
tables, she took from the counter all his dinner
his soup, potatoes, meat, and puddingpiled
it up dexterously in her two hands, set it before
him, and took his ticket. This serving of the
whole dinner at once, had been found greatly to
simplify the business of attendance, and was
also popular with the customers: who were
thus enabled to vary the meal by varying the
routine of dishes: beginning with soup to-day,
putting soup in the middle to-morrow, putting
soup at the end the day after to-morrow, and
ringing similar changes on meat and
pudding. The rapidity with which every new comer
got served, was remarkable; and the dexterity