Have You Ever Wondered When Restaurants and or Fast Foods came to being? And, which came first…?

The Worthen House, on 141 Worthen Street, Lowell, Massachusetts, is the oldest bar in Lowell, originally built in 1834 as the West India Goods Store. featured image source

Quite assuredly, restaurants and fast foods were born out of the USA’s Industrial Revolution. History tells of a time (Post American Revolution 1780 thru 1860 Civil War antebellum) when the vast enterprising and manufacturing of goods transpired. Factories opened in America’s cities as Lowell Massachusetts and Bothell Washington. Young people went to work in factories; however, after work, they socialized. The intermingling of these newly working-class of young people prompted food concessions to be established. This was the infancy of USA’s industrialization and the dawning of urbanization. This is an AmericaOnCoffee (AOC) Commentary!

The Oldest Restaurants in America

by Amy McKeever

Restaurants aren’t exactly known for long life spans, but every so often one comes along that stands the test of time. There are inns and taverns dotting the East Coast that have been around since — or even before — America itself was founded. But how old is the oldest seafood restaurant or steakhouse? Which of the country’s old-school diners and red-sauce joints are still in operation today? Here’s a look at 11 of the oldest restaurants in America, organized by category:

Oldest Cafe: Café du Monde, New Orleans, LA

Things have been kept pretty simple at the Café du Monde over its 150-year-plus reign. Chicory coffee and square beignets generously dusted with powdered sugar still win the morning, afternoon, and evening at this 24-hour cafe. Café du Monde has been a fixture for life in New Orleans since 1862, having halted operations only temporarily for Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.

800 Decatur St.; 504-525-4544

Oldest Diner: Horseshoe Cafe, Bellingham, WA

It’s been 130 years since the Horseshoe Cafe opened its doors to the miners who had rushed to the doorstep of Bellingham, Washington. Though it’s moved a few times in that long history — and just last year was remodeled and reopened under new ownership — the Horseshoe Cafe has been an all-day Bellingham fixture since 1886. Its menu is stacked with diner staples, from fried chicken and triple-stacked pancakes to burgers and patty melts.

113 E. Holly St.; 360-933-4301

Oldest Burger Joint: Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, CT

There’s some controversy over who gets to claim the oldest burger joint title. The late food writer Josh Ozersky neatly laid out the argument for why a White Castle founder invented the hamburger, but our money falls on Louis’ Lunch for oldest burger joint in America. This New Haven icon has been serving burgers between slices of toast (a disqualifier for some, although buns weren’t even invented at the time) since 1895.

261-263 Crown St.; 203-562-5507

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7 thoughts on “Have You Ever Wondered When Restaurants and or Fast Foods came to being? And, which came first…?

  1. In Lowell they remind you that “the Lowells only speak to Cabots, and the Cabots only speak to God.” I guess the attitude is part of the authentic ambiance. Cafe du Mond used to be truly imbued with New Orleans spirit, with jazz musicians just stopping by to play a tune or two, and older people spontaneously breaking into dance. I was told it has become touristy, just like everything else, but can’t say firsthand, as we haven’t been back there in quite a few years. Even then, the best coffee was at the Morning Call in Metairie. Ditto beignets.

  2. These are all so interesting, as the industrial foundation within our country, America had a flourishing beginning, stimulated by the textile industries (Francis Cabot Lowell). If it were not for the birth of industralization, there probably would be no restaurants or fast-food services. Then again, maybe they would have surfaced, slowly or by another social impact. Coffee was not so big from America’s colonial transitioning into the industrial. Tea was. New Orleans had a different social impact that stimulated its rise of restaurants and other fast foods. I believe this was due to agricultural trade, especially cotton. Coffee was a treasured commodity shared. And., this was due to the proximity of the Caribbeans to New Orleans. I find Bothell Washington (NW) and Lowell Masschusetts (NE) had been socially inhibited, (even with Indian contacts and constant migration) before the rise of factories then food services.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all this information. As you know, I am incessantly fascinated by history, especially food history.
    P.S. I find the entire Massachusets socially inhibited, to this day (excepting my son and his family, of course!).

  4. Yet, it is the the home of really good people. First impacted by industrialization, and now more technology and modernization, we all keep changing. History is fascinating. And Massachusetts a highlight of America’s beginnings. This is certainly an embrace.❤☕

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