A restaurant with flair

A look at the early Grand Rapids dining scene.
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Hattem’s interior in June 1937. The restaurant reportedly was the first in the area with air conditioning to keep diners happy. Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Library

Started by Lebanese immigrant Deeb Hattem in 1910, Hattem’s was a fixture at Wealthy and Division for nearly 60 years. The restaurant began as a convenience shop that sold cigars, candy, sandwiches and ice cream cones. In 1933, it secured one of the first liquor licenses after Prohibition ended and shifted into a full-scale restaurant and cocktail lounge. Serving American cuisine, Hattem’s was frequented by Heritage Hill families for Sunday dinner and visited by celebrities. In 1937, the eatery debuted a new Hammond organ that “was a hit, and we were the first restaurant in the area to have air conditioning, and that was quite a drawing card.”

Deeb Hattem died at an early age in 1926. His wife, Latife, and cousin, Sam Maloley, took over business operations. Deeb and Latife’s son, Mose Hattem, joined in managing the restaurant after returning from serving during World War II. In 1950, Mose married Maxine George, a talented pianist and organist. Maxine attended the New England Conservatory of Music, played with the Spike Jones Band, formed her own all-girl ensemble and recorded an album. Maxine played the organ at Hattem’s regularly. After the restaurant closed in 1968, she continued to be a fixture in the local scene, playing weekly at other restaurants with a loyal following.

This story can be found in the March/April 2022 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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