The First U.S. Restaurant To Serve Unaccompanied Women Is Over 150 Years Old

Ladies, we've come a long way since the generations before us. Sunday brunches and dinner dates with the girls, solitary coffee shop stops, and other gals-only gatherings, believe it or not, did not appear in any datebooks a shade over 150 years ago. While it's hard to envision this type of world, keep in mind that women were granted the right to vote a mere century ago when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1919.

Everything changed in 1868, when a group of New York City women were guests at a restaurant without any husband in sight, according to Mic. This dining experience sparked a feminist revolution that is now considered totally commonplace. Delmonico's, located in Manhattan's Financial District, was the first eatery to seat a party of women.

Women have gained more freedoms over the years, including the right to dine in public while unaccompanied. For this, we have a dozen New Yorkers to thank. Delmonico's, a popular steakhouse, hosted 12 middle- and upper-class women on April 20, 1868, in what was considered a radical move for the era, per Gastro Obscura.

Delmonico's first served solo women diners

A journalist by the name of Jane Cunningham Croly spearheaded the iconic event. As the story goes, celebrated author Charles Dickens was embarking on a tour and was reserved to dine at Delmonico's. Despite her status in the media, Croly was denied entry to the dinner by the New York Press Club, according to Timeline. In response, she founded Sorosis, the first American women's club. Avant-garde restaurateur Lorenzo Delmonico welcomed the society to hold their introductory meeting — and every meeting thereafter — at his namesake establishment. That moment created a new form of liberation for women — one that has, thankfully, withstood the test of time.

Sadly, the restaurant that served these independent women closed its doors in 2020 in response to the pandemic, Eater New York reports. Recently, there has been a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not the legendary landmark at the corner of 56 Beaver Street will welcome patrons in the future. According to the restaurant's website, there have been false claims made by former workers that the brand name will be revived in 2023, which has led to a lawsuit between them and the true owners. Plans to officially reopen Delmonico's still remain up in the air.