I was contacted recently by Mike Marando, whose father Jimmie Marando was the owner of a popular supper club in Milan, Illinois. Mike had seen my post on the Mayer China Company and asked if I'd be willing to add Marando's to the list of restaurants in that post, which I was happy to do, but I quickly realized that the history of Marando's was so fascinating that it deserved a post of its own.
Jimmie Marando was born in 1914, and by the early 1930s he was working as a bartender and innkeeper on the south side of Chicago. In 1936 he moved to the Quad Cities area (a group of five cities on the Iowa-Illinois boundary, including Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline, Illinois), where he went to work at Mrs. Dunn’s Tea Room in Milan (later to become the Fairview Inn and then Marando’s).
In 1943, Jimmie joined the Army and was stationed in Okinawa and Japan. While on leave later that year, he married 21-year-old pianist Myrna Mansfield in private ceremony at the Chicago home of James "Jake" Gottlieb, who would later own The Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.
While in the Army, Jimmie decided to open a restaurant with a South Pacific theme. After his discharge in 1946, he secured a liquor license with the help of his brother Joe and opened Tropics, where Myrna played at the piano bar six nights a week.
By 1948, Jimmie's brother Jeff, who was head chef and manager at the Fairview Inn, convinced the owners to sell to the brothers. After purchasing the Fairview, Jimmie and Jeff did a complete remodel of the building, inside and out, and in 1950 the name was changed to Marando's. Jeff ran the kitchen, the youngest Marando brother Ernie was the casino manager, Charlie Spates was the general manager and Jimmie was the frontman. A local columnist said, "Jimmy Marando was a smooth fellow, with slicked-back hair and dark blue double-breasted suits. He glided around his place in spit-shined shoes, often with a martini in hand."
Marando's brought in big-name entertainment over the years, such as the Ames Brothers, Carmen Cavallero, Rosemary Clooney, Jimmy Dorsey, Liberace, Guy Lombardo, and Louie Prima, as well as hosting all sorts of special events and chartered trips.
In 1966, Jimmie started working on plans for the Marando Plaza Hotel, but he died of cancer at age 52 later that year before the project came to fruition. Marando's continued to operate until 1972.
Thanks to Mike Marando for researching, compiling and sharing this information about his family's business. Mike has been a media spokesperson, marketing and public affairs specialist for five California state departments and agencies over the past 30 years, the most recent of which was with the California Department of Motor Vehicles where he served as Deputy Director of Public Affairs through the end of 2012. Today, he is an independent marketing consultant and emcees many events for private charities and non-profits in the greater Sacramento area, where he resides with his wife Donna.
Mike, just so you know...you had me a "supper club."
All images from marandosrestaurant.com
|Marando's neon sign|
|Marando's dinnerware by Mayer China Company|
|Marando's fare (Check the prices!)|
|Artist's rendering of the restaurant|
|Liberace at Marando's|