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Book portrays 
restaurant history

By LAWRENCE SILVER

April 2006

Charles Goff McIntosh (from left), John Schoenknecht and Jane McIntosh Seel posed for a photo at a recent book signing event.


From the railroaders of the 1890s, to the Spring City tourists of the 1920s, and onto the women of the home front during World War II, customers at Goff’s restaurant span an important part of Waukesha history.

To capture that history, Charlie Goff McIntosh and Jane McIntosh Seel wrote "Growing Up at Goff’s."

McIntosh says the book is the story of downtown Waukesha’s best restaurant from the early 1890s until 1960.

"It really ties to the history of the town," says McIntosh, 72, who now lives in Gambrills, Md. "It’s a real positive story. It’s for anybody who wants to get a feel of life in Waukesha through the 1960s."

McIntosh says his grandfather Chet Goff opened the restaurant in 1893 near the intersection of Clinton Street and Wisconsin Avenue, where Mama Mia Italian Cuisine is now.

Goff built a dining room after 1905 to expand the restaurant, McIntosh says.

"He was a hands-on type manager," McIntosh says of his grandfather. "He had a strict code of conduct."

McIntosh says railroaders were the customers in the early days of operation, but as time wore on patrons were more likely to be Carroll College students or tourists coming to Waukesha to visits its famous springs.

McIntosh says the restaurant was linked to typhoid in the mid 1920s but managed to maintain its customer base.

"It was so well thought of and such a good restaurant, that it just survived," McIntosh says.

McIntosh says many of the patrons included local dignitaries. Some of the employees there ended up being famous, too.

"Dennis Morgan worked there," McIntosh says of the actor, who starred in films during the 1940s and ’50s. "He was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in his day."

McIntosh says that’s what he loved about growing up at Goff’s. He loved meeting all the interesting people.

"The restaurant was my family," McIntosh says. "I learned everything there. It’s where I grew up."

"Growing Up at Goff’s" is available in the gift shop of the Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the museum.