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Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor

Thomas, Lately. Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967.
history, biography

Thomas relates the history of the Delmonico family and the rise of their restaurant empire.

People Mentioned in this Work

Booth, Edwin [pages:168]

Mentions Booth's Theater in New York City.

Brady, James [pages:124-25, 219]
Curtis, George [pages:153]

Curtis is mentioned in relation to the New York Historical Society.

Daly, John [pages:218]

Daly and other producers ate at the Delmonico's at Madison Square.

Delmonico, Charles [pages:51, 76, 80, 81, 84-86, 121, 122, 124-25, 129, 131-32, 133, 153, 154, 157-58, 161, 164, 172, 185-86, 187, 195, 199-200, 201-202, 203-208, 294, 209]

It was Charles who noticed that the “sort of man who patronized Delmonico’s . . . was not the sort that liked to be dunned about a bill; so the rule was laid down that bills should be presented only when a customer asked for one” (76). This strategy was hugely successful, as was Charles’s unacknowledged use of a “blacklist.” A customer could be placed on the list for inappropriate behavior or for lack of payment. Interestingly, a person who had been “listed” would not be told of his (Delmonico’s catered almost exclusively to a male clientele) change in status. A “listed” customer was greeted in the same friendly manner as always, but his food order never made its way to the kitchen and his questions about the delay were met with polite smiles. “If the luckless customer at length demanded to see the proprietor, one of the Delmonicos would purr with sympathy and depart in the direction of the chef’s office 'to see what might be the trouble’” (77). Eventually the customer would realize his new position and leave the restaurant: “Men incurring this rebuff, it was said, were marked with a social stigma almost as ineradicable as that attached to being caught cheating at cards, in one’s own club” (77).

Charles maintained strict rules about proper conduct at his restaurant: “No lady was permitted to dine at Delmonico’s without a male escort” and men and women could not close the door while eating in a private room (131-32). However, when female members of the press decided to hold their own meetings (after being excluded from the New York Press Club meetings), Delmonico allowed them to use a private room at Delmonico's on 14th St. (139-40).

Greeley, Horace [pages:113-114, 124, 139]

Greeley frequented the Delmonico's restaurant on Chamber's Street (124).

He presided over a dinner held at Delmonico's for Charles Dickens, which cost about $3000

Greeley refused to preside over a meeting of the New York press club unless female members of the press were allowed to attend.

Hall, Abraham [pages:124]

Hall frequented the Delmonico's restaurant on Chamber's Street.

Wallack's Lyceum [pages:168]

Mentions that Wallack's was presenting "The Almighty Dollar" (168).

Willis, Nathaniel [pages:57]

Willis often dined at Delmonico's: "At another table might be Nathaniel Parker Willis, scribbler of newspaper gossip" (57).