As WW1 was raging overseas, America entered a period of voluntary food rationing developed by future President Herbert Hoover, who headed up the U.S. Food Administration. Dishes such as Corn Willy Hash were popular during this time and were most likely a staple at eateries managed by the Joint Welfare Service, the precursor to the Welfare and Recreational Association of Public Buildings and Grounds (the organization that eventually would become Guest Services).
The company’s very early years were tenuous, at best. The superintendent of the War and Navy Department buildings and the many temporary buildings saw a need to enhance the services provided by private foodservice concessionaires and fronted the initial monies from his own personal funds. Through diligence and efficiency, enough funding was built up that the private concessionaires could be absorbed. One of the first concessions taken over was the Mall Cafeteria, located in one of a group of temporary buildings on the National Mall near the site of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which served roughly 6,000 meals a day. At that time, as is true today, all of our concessions were operated “for service, rather than for profit.”