loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...
Bentham's Restaurant

Bentham's Restaurant

GRHC - October 24th, 2012

James Bentham's restaurant was an important place in town in the 1800s. Charles Belknap claimed it was as important as Daniel Ball's bank.


Charles Belknap, recalling Bentham’s Restaurant as the most important place in town, wrote, “It stood where the Pantlind Hotel now stands. It may be the Pantlind’s reputation for good food was an inheritance rightly handed down. Bentham specialized in smoked venison. Sometimes he had boiled ham or venison stew with onions; in the winter oysters from gallon wooden jugs; usually a kettle of pea soup to draw the French trade, but always dried venison.

Nobody need go hungry, for if a fellow’s credit was low he could set his traps for muskrat and trade the skins to Bentham for his daily bread. Ice cream had not been invented, but the present-day children have nothing over those who had a chunk of dried venison to gnaw on. Molasses candy was the great confection in those days, paid for with our big copper cents.

The floor and tabletops at Bentham’s were not scrubbed to excess. But of the time that I am writing the public could no more get along without Bentham’s than they could without Daniel Ball's bank next door.

James Bentham grew gray and when the Indians with canoe loads of bucks no longer came, the taste of the town changed to beer and pretzels and Bentham’s became a thing of the past.”

His customers wouldn’t recognize the present day restaurant that carries his name in the Amway Grand Plaza, the former Pantlind Hotel.


Full Details

TitleBentham's Restaurant
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; James Bentham; Charles Belknap
Pubdate StringOctober 24th, 2012

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC