How the Sneeze Guard Changed the Hospitality Industry…Forever!

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau's Smorgaboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau’s Smorgasboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

I’m sure you’ve seen it – a sneeze guard is that Plexiglass cover required by law to be over salad bars and buffets. My dad, Johnny Garneau, who died this past May at age 90, invented it.

Smithsonian Magazine was so fascinated with the genesis of the sneeze guard that reporter K. Annabelle Smith went digging even as far as contacting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An Internet search led her to me, the self-proclaimed Sneeze Guard Heiress.

Johnny Garneau was a dreamer, entrepreneur and entertainer, but most of all, a restaurant man. After the war (the big one, WWII), he sat on the bumper of his ’46 Chevy, slapped his hand on his knee and told my mom, “I’m going to start a restaurant!” And, by golly, he did! He opened The Beanery – with curb service and menu of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in 36 flavors. That was only the beginning.

Fast forward to late 1950s when the sneeze guard was born. A lot of the things we see and use daily were invented by someone who had the dream and the guts to take an idea to fruition. Read the article here from Smithsonian Magazine. Enjoy the story of the inventor and the images of one of our country’s greatest inventions.

Johnny Garneau with KDKA-TV's Jean Connelly, Pittsburgh,1961

Johnny Garneau with KDKA-TV’s Jean Connelly, Pittsburgh,1961


6 thoughts on “How the Sneeze Guard Changed the Hospitality Industry…Forever!

  1. Dear Barbara –
    I don’t generally respond to your posts, though I enjoy reading every one of them. But I especially loved this one and reading about your wonderful Dad. What a guy!
    Keep them coming.
    Much love-

    Sent from iPad

    • Mike: I wished dad could have met you, he would have loved you! He really thought I was lucky to marry Bill Kelley and he enjoyed hearing about your family and, of course, Uncle Bill, the general officer. My regret is not having met your dad, RBK, who I understand was full of hospitality. Thanks for writing.

  2. Hi Barbara
    My name is Duane and I really enjoyed reading this ,because in the 1960s I worked at Johnny Garneau’s Smorgasboard I was a meat cutter on the cutting station .Worked there for two years it paid for many dates Thank you for the post ..If you have any more pictures would love to see them

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