"Quick Lunch," Grimes & the TImes

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Dec 6 17:12:33 UTC 2004

English visitors to NYC in the early 19th C often commented on the
habit of eating midday meals very quickly and silently.  Capt.
Marryat's book of his travels in America in about 1827 has a very nice
long description of a meal in a restaurant that specialized in corned
beef.  I posted an excerpt several years ago with reference to the
coded language used by the waiters to communicate orders to the kitchen.

Here is a letter comparing a fine restaurant with a cheap one, from

Choice way of creating an appetite, and getting a cheap dinner. -- Go
to Sandy Welsh's between the hours of 2 and 4, glance over the bill of
fare, snuff up the odoriferous scent from the luxuries and delicacies
of his kitchen, take three turns round, and then dart into Sweeney's
slap bang shop.  One Who Knows.  The Herald, June 16, 1836, p. 1, col. 2


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

"We have seen the best of our time.  Machinations, hollowness,
treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our
graves."  King Lear, Act 1, scene 2 (Gloucester speaking).

----- Original Message -----
From: Bapopik at AOL.COM
Date: Sunday, December 5, 2004 10:17 pm
Subject: "Quick Lunch," Grimes & the TImes

> On Friday, someone showed me a book review, written by former food
> POWER, by John Steele Gordon.
> From the NEW YORK TIMES, 3 December 2004, pg. E44, col. 6:
> This is popular history, written almost entirely from secondary
> sources,with a bare sprinkling of footnotes. The facts are not
> always correct. The
> quick-lunch counters frequented by Wall Street brokers were old
> news by the
> 1860's, when Mr. Gordon claims they were invented.
> So my friend says that I should know something about "quick
> lunch." What
> version is correct? A quick check on Newspaperarchive shows not a
> singlecitation for "quick lunch" before about 1890.
> Frankly, all I know is what I read in the New York Times. I posted
> thisdiscovery to ADS-L a while ago. Read the entire old post
> again. Grimes knows  more
> about New York City food history than the New York Times of 100
> years  ago?
> 14 September 1903, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 7:
> _Quick Lunch  Pioneer Dead._
> Patrick Dolan, proprietor of Dolan's restaurant at 3 Park Row,
> and known as
> the originator of the quick lunch counter, died yesterday
> afternoon  at 4
> o'clock of apoplexy.

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