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The Restaurant of the Counterculture by Chriziel Childers

By Angela Moor on July 8, 2019 4:39 PM | Permalink

The 1960s was an era of counterculture, rejecting  the conservative norms and the social conformity of the earlier decade. From the anti-war movement, civil rights movement, to second wave feminism, the 1960s left a mark in the history of the United States. The psychedelic movement that occurred during the 1960s influenced music, art, literature, and even fashion of the decade.

As one of the Archival Assistants arranging and describing Special Collections and Archives’ large collection of menus, I come across menus that date from the late 1800s to early 2000s from all over the world. One particular menu I stumbled upon dates from around the late 1960s, with intricate artwork that caught my attention immediately.

Scanned full page image of Trident menu

This menu is from the Trident in Sausalito, California. Purchased by the Kingston Trio, a band who contributed to the American revival of the folk genre, this musical entertainment venue and natural foods restaurant was noted for its psychedelic murals and as a gathering place for like-minded locals and celebrities. Notable patrons included Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, Clint Eastwood and Joan Baez. Woody Allen filmed a scene in the restaurant for a scene in the movie Play it Again Sam. Robin Williams bussed tables in this restaurant during the summers of 1974, 1975, and 1976.

Scanned full page image of Trident menu

The hand drawn psychedelic  style of the menu caught my eye the moment I saw it in one of the boxes I was processing.

The very detailed descriptions of the food served in the establishment are surrounded by ornate artwork. It reminds me of the psychedelic rock posters made by artists Victor Moscoso and Bonnie MacLean. The outer part of the menu is filled with small writings such as “Help us yourself.”

Text reading Help Us Maintain... Love Yourself from Trident menu

Text reading Love, Work, and Knowledge are the Well-Springs of Our Life. They should also govern it.

The menu has a variety of art styles, including cut-out style photographs and hand drawn artwork. The psychedelic artstyle is prominent in how some of the lines on the drawings are artfully skewed, replicating a sense of a dazed state and lightheadedness at first glance.

Text of Welcome message on Trident menu

Drawing of man and woman on Trident menu

Working at Special Collections and Archives is a unique experience. Menus from different eras and places show the evolution of  design styles, artworks, typography, and the variety of cuisines and prices of food, and have expanded my knowledge of different food cultures around the world.