Delmonico's: The Creation of the Modern American Restaurant

Open Access
D'aversa, Andrew Nicholas
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Bryan Lee Mcdonald, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael James Milligan, Honors Advisor
  • Delmonico's
  • New York City
  • restaurants
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the creation of the modern American restaurant and the factors that formed it through the lens of Delmonico’s. Delmonico’s is widely considered the first restaurant in America. During its lifetime, Delmonico’s earned international acclaim for its classical French cuisine and excellent service. This thesis traces Delmonico’s almost century-long history, from its beginnings in 1827 through 1848, its golden era until 1896, and its downfall in the 1920s. By combining both business and social history, this thesis argues for Delmonico’s rightful place in the historical record and explains why the restaurant model developed by Delmonico’s was successful. To achieve this result, many primary sources, including memoirs, cookbooks written by former Delmonico’s chefs, and a plethora of newspaper articles are analyzed. This thesis will fill the gap in the scholarly record, both of a critical view of Delmonico’s and the reasons for the restaurant format’s prominence from the mid-nineteenth century forward in America.