Manufacturer: Shenango China
User: The Rampou Café – Butte, Montana
Distributor: Joesting & Schilling Co., St. Paul, Minn.
Date of plate: Circa 1917-1924
Notes: Edouard Rampou, who was born in Italy, was owner of The Rampou Café in Butte, Montana, at 19 N. Main Street, which opened in 1917 with an expansion in 1919.
The July 31, 1921, issue of The Anaconda Standard ran a long story about Rampou, dubbing him a "Swiss Frenchman" … who "enjoys the distinction of having cooked for the presidents of three republics," including serving as "steward for President Teddy Roosevelt at Oyster Bay for seven years." (The story goes on at length to detail the copious amounts of food that Roosevelt was served at each meal, with Rampou commenting: "President Roosevelt was a man of tremendous dynamic energy. … What would have been gluttony in another was merely the necessities for him.")
Rampou could have chosen any place to cook, the Standard story continued, but he "elected to cast his tent in Butte, where he serves the connoisseurs of good things to eat under the sign 'it's the chef' on Main street."
Among the American hotels where Rampou cooked were the Davenport in Spokane; the LaSalle in Chicago; and the Knickerbock in New York City.
According to a story in the Jan. 6, 1923, issue of The Anaconda Standard, Rampou was jailed in New York on charges of writing a bad check to his butcher in the amount of $224.73. In the account, it said: "Rampou, who has been one of the leading caterers of the city and who is a chef of reputation, disposed of his restaurant three days ago and left Butte for Europe." … "A few days ago, he sold his business to two well-known Butte chefs, who have been residents of this city for many years, giving as a reason that he was anxious to visit Europe for a few months."
The next day The Anaconda – seemingly with little else to report – ran a large ad welcoming the new owners, effective Jan. 1, 1923, noting that the cafe "passed from the ownership of Edward Rampou to new proprietors." (Notice the anglicized spelling at this point of Edouard to Edward.). The new owners were Sam Bergovich and Harry Batakis. Batakis, it was said, had been the chef for Rampou and "was so generally conceded by Mr. Rampou, the former proprietor, that the success of his business was due to Harry's unusual ability as a chef, that the slogan of the place was made 'It's the Chef,'" another indication that the china indeed had a typo.
On April 8, 1924, the café was destroyed by fire and by that August, a local shoe company had built a new location on the site.
White body vitrified china plate with the café's logo placed at the top of the rim. The logo consists of a green line drawing of a rabbit facing right over a red shield containing three elements. First is a green line drawing of a fish. Second is a green banner at a 45-degree angle running through the middle of the red shield. The banner contains the word "Rampou" in large white block letters. The third element is a green line drawing of a goose flying to the left. On the left, outside the red shield, is a rectangular box outlined in green containing the words "To Please You" in green Old English script. On the right side of the red shield is a matching rectangular box outlined in green containing the words "It's the Chef" in green Old English script.
For additional info:
Rampou Café by Shenango China
Research and plate photos: Rodric Coslet
Author: Ed Phillips