Wednesday, January 09, 2008

George Webb's Clocks

George Webb is a Milwaukee restaurant chain of the basic and cheap variety, just my sort of place. We found one on Saturday, a small spot with five booths and counter seating for about a dozen, shoehorned into one end of a strip center that also sported a liquor store and a Kwikie Mart. The place was nearly full at 2:30 pm, which I took as a good sign.

Breakfast was a 24-hour option there, and a good one, too. Recommended: pancakes and eggs. Yuriko didn't say anything one way or the other about the coffee. There wasn't much to look at around on the walls, except the two clocks. Back in the back, I noticed two clocks, exactly the same, telling the same time, next to each other on the wall. Odd, I thought. Probably everyone thinks that. But then I forgot about it.

Later I learned that all of the chain's locations sport two clocks on the wall, telling the same time, next to each other. So not only did I enjoy the pancakes and eggs, but a George Webb distinctive detail as well. notes:

"Q: Why are there two clocks on the wall, right next to each other, at George Webb?

"A: This simple query has confounded customers at counters and in booths for decades. (It's particularly confusing for those patrons already seeing double after bar closing time).

"There are many theories as to how the two clock tradition began. The most common, and the one offered by a patient waitress during a recent visit, goes like this...

"Years ago, local law prohibited business from being open 24 hours a day. George Webb (yes, there really was a George Webb), announced that his restaurants were open '23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, seven days a week and on Sundays!'

"In order to avoid closing at all, the restaurants had two clocks installed with the time set one minute apart. Technically, the restaurant was closed one minute per day on one clock, but open on the other.

"This is the common theory and the one that you'll get if you ask someone on the premises. (They've heard it before, trust us)..."


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