Florida’s menus, in particular, exhibit the rich history of the many diasporas that make up the state’s diverse population and a growing maritime and agricultural economy as new businesses started to emerge throughout the 1900s. The previous uninhabited swamp lands of Florida were purchased by visionaries like George E. Merrick, founder of Coral Gables, who sought to turn these lands into profit, thus aiding Florida in becoming an agricultural center that quickly expanded and prospered over time. As Florida’s land grew more attractive to other business moguls due to the year-round warm temperatures, its prime fishing locations, and its beautiful beaches, the hospitality industry also flourished.
As part of our initiative to document Florida’s unique and evolving cultural history, we have been collecting menus from all over Florida and adding them our new Florida Menu Collection. We invite you now to come bring us all the menus you happen to find while dining out or strewn among your old belongings and to donate them to the University of Miami Special Collections department here on the 8th Floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.
The Florida Menu Collection comprises of both vintage and contemporary menus originating from restaurants all around Florida, depicting a unique part of its culinary, agricultural, and commercial history. Origins of these menus currently include Miami, Miami Beach, Bradenton, Brandon, Coral Gables, Key West, Pembroke Pines, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Hallandale, Kissimmee, and Jacksonville. New menus will be added periodicially to the collection as they are acquired.