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August 2003

MARAIS
Hell's Swells

A hot spot called Hell's Café lured 19th-century Parisians to the city's Montmartre neighborhood—like the Marais—on the Right Bank of the Seine. With plaster lost souls writhing on its walls and a bug-eyed devil's head for a front door, le Café de l'Enfer may have been one of the world's first theme restaurants. According to one 1899 visitor, the café's doorman—in a Satan suit—welcomed diners with the greeting, "Enter and be damned!" Hell's waiters also dressed as devils. An order for three black coffees spiked with cognac was shrieked back to the kitchen as: "Three seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!"
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Photograph by H. C. Ellis

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