|Posted on December 11, 2013 at 9:05 PM|
It is not known if Otto Branning attended the 1893 World’s Fair or even if he was introduced to chili during his time in Chicago; however, soon after he and his family relocated to Salt Lake City in 1901 he established his first restaurant, a small lunch stand, and by 1903 he had moved his business to a full service chili parlor located at 17 E. 200 South in downtown Salt Lake City.
By 1906, Branning’s Chili Parlor relocated and expanded to two locations becoming the most popular chili places in all of Salt Lake City with locations at 315 S. Main Street and 36 E. 100 South.
Branning advertised nightly specials complete with “moving pictures and an orchestra” and unapologetically advertised his chili parlor as a rambunctious party place. He served chili con carne, tamales, Spanish veal stew, and limburger cheese.
By 1910 he was calling himself the “Chili King” of Salt Lake City. He became so prosperous he was able to move his family into a nice Victorian home located at 153 C Street in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City.
In April of 1910, a new extravagant hotel opened at 200 South and State Street in downtown Salt Lake City and Branning relocated one of his chili shops from Main Street to the first floor of the Hotel Semloh. There was a saloon next door on the corner that had a window in the wall that could be opened up into the chili parlor. Food could be passed from the chili parlor, if wanted, into the saloon and beer could be ordered from the saloon and consumed at the chili parlor.
1913 Branning wished to relocate to California. He rented out his house at 153 C Street and also sold his chili business at the Semloh Hotel to Sieger Springer, who in March of 1913 reorganized the business as King Chili Co. Springer advertised himself as the “Chili King” and “Successor to O. E. Branning.”
According to Springer family history, Sieger Springer and his wife Martje financed the purchase of the chili parlor by mortgaging their home located at 840 Ashton Avenue. It was a very successful business for one year; then Branning decided to come back to Salt Lake and in an underhanded manner he opened another chili parlor at 103 E. 200 South, just around the corner and only 118 feet way from the Springers. This really hurt business, so in 1914 the Springers sold the parlor in the Semloh Hotel to Ben Helput.
Helput operated Ben’s Chili Parlor at the Hotel Semloh until 1915 when he was involved in a violent altercation at the adjacent saloon and was slashed by a razor. He knew his perpetrator but did not press charges; however, immediately following the altercation he sold his chili parlor to Amasa Belnap who continued to operate it under the name of Ben’s Chili Parlor. Belnap moved to the town of Cornnie in 1917 the chili parlor at the Hotel Semloh was no more. The location became the site of several different businesses including a chauffeur office and doughnut shop. The Hotel Semloh (later known as the Belmont Hotel) was demolished in November of 1935 to make way for a "modern" one-story supermarket.
Categories: History Blog