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The Making Of Mac’s
by [?]

Mac’s Restaurant–nobody calls it MacFarland’s–is a mystery. It is off the beaten track. It is not smart. It does not advertise. It provides nothing nearer to an orchestra than a solitary piano, yet, with all these things against it, it is a success. In theatrical circles especially it holds a position which might turn the white lights of many a supper-palace green with envy.

This is mysterious. You do not expect Soho to compete with and even eclipse Piccadilly in this way. And when Soho does so compete, there is generally romance of some kind somewhere in the background.

Somebody happened to mention to me casually that Henry, the old waiter, had been at Mac’s since its foundation.

‘Me?’ said Henry, questioned during a slack spell in the afternoon. ‘Rather!’

‘Then can you tell me what it was that first gave the place the impetus which started it on its upward course? What causes should you say were responsible for its phenomenal prosperity? What–‘

‘What gave it a leg-up? Is that what you’re trying to get at?’

‘Exactly. What gave it a leg-up? Can you tell me?’

‘Me?’ said Henry. ‘Rather!’

And he told me this chapter from the unwritten history of the London whose day begins when Nature’s finishes.

* * * * *

Old Mr MacFarland (said Henry) started the place fifteen years ago. He was a widower with one son and what you might call half a daughter. That’s to say, he had adopted her. Katie was her name, and she was the child of a dead friend of his. The son’s name was Andy. A little freckled nipper he was when I first knew him–one of those silent kids that don’t say much and have as much obstinacy in them as if they were mules. Many’s the time, in them days, I’ve clumped him on the head and told him to do something; and he didn’t run yelling to his pa, same as most kids would have done, but just said nothing and went on not doing whatever it was I had told him to do. That was the sort of disposition Andy had, and it grew on him. Why, when he came back from Oxford College the time the old man sent for him–what I’m going to tell you about soon–he had a jaw on him like the ram of a battleship. Katie was the kid for my money. I liked Katie. We all liked Katie.

Old MacFarland started out with two big advantages. One was Jules, and the Other was me. Jules came from Paris, and he was the greatest cook you ever seen. And me–well, I was just come from ten years as waiter at the Guelph, and I won’t conceal it from you that I gave the place a tone. I gave Soho something to think about over its chop, believe me. It was a come-down in the world for me, maybe, after the Guelph, but what I said to myself was that, when you get a tip in Soho, it may be only tuppence, but you keep it; whereas at the Guelph about ninety-nine hundredths of it goes to helping to maintain some blooming head waiter in the style to which he has been accustomed. It was through my kind of harping on that fact that me and the Guelph parted company. The head waiter complained to the management the day I called him a fat-headed vampire.

Well, what with me and what with Jules, MacFarland’s–it wasn’t Mac’s in them days–began to get a move on. Old MacFarland, who knew a good man when he saw one and always treated me more like a brother than anything else, used to say to me, ‘Henry, if this keeps up, I’ll be able to send the boy to Oxford College’; until one day he changed it to, ‘Henry, I’m going to send the boy to Oxford College’; and next year, sure enough, off he went.