20 of the Oldest Restaurants in the United States
If you thought that eating out at a restaurant with friends or family is a relatively modern concept, then you must know that your grandparents and great-grandparents loved to do so too! The proof is here with this compiled list of the oldest and still functioning restaurants in our country. Some establishments have been functioning since the 1670s and still stand proudly offering some of the finest dishes in town. So, let’s go through this compiled list of 20 of the oldest restaurants in the United States.
1 White Horse Tavern (Newport, Rhode Island) – 1673
Constructed before 1673, the White Horse Tavern is believed to be the oldest tavern building in the United States. Built at the corner of Farewell and Marlborough streets in Newport, Rhode Island, this place is rich in history.
The White Horse Tavern was constructed by Francis Brinley, an English immigrant, in 1652. Later, in 1673, he sold it to William Mayes, who further enlarged the building to convert it into a tavern. It was then used for public gatherings, general assembly meeting places, a courthouse, and a city hall.
He got the license to run a tavern here in 1687, and his son continued running the tavern until the 18th century. It was restored in 1952 and currently operates as a popular drinking and dining location in the city. (source)
2 The Wayside Inn (Sudbury, Massachusetts) – 1686
The Wayside Inn is a historic inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Being one of the oldest functioning inns in the USA, it is mentioned in the National Register of Historic Places. The establishment was given the name, Howe’s Tavern, in 1716.
Interestingly, this inn has some old documents from 1686 onwards treasured in its archive. One can also find the license granted to the first innkeeper, David Howe, in 1716. Many generations have run the inn until 1861, when the fifth-generation owner, Lyman Howe, died without children. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited this inn in 1862 and has even penned some of his famous poems there.
The tavern was purchased by Edward R. Lemon in 1897 and then again by Henry Ford in 1923. He was the last private owner of the inn and said he fell in love with it at first sight. It has been run by his family since then. (source)
3 Ye Olde Centerton Inn (Pittsgrove, New Jersey) – 1706
Ye Olde Centerton Inn is an old establishment in operation since 1706. It is famous for currently serving the region’s finest steaks and seafood.
Ye Olde Centerton Inn is one of the oldest continuously operating inns in the state of New Jersey. It has been in business for over 300 years. Diners flock to this historic establishment, lured by its pre-revolutionary charm.
It is currently being run by a husband-and-wife chef team, Brian and Joanne Goode. They purchased it in 2003 and are preserving the authentic feel of the establishment. (source)
4 Concord’s Colonial Inn (Concord, Massachusetts) – 1716
Concord’s Colonial Inn is a historic inn in Concord, Massachusetts built in 1716. It earned the category of a hotel in 1889. This inn is mentioned in the National Register of Historic Places as well.
The Concord Colonial Inn is one of the oldest properties listed on the Register. Its current name was given in 1900. There were three separate constructions in this establishment initially, which were brought together later in 1897.
The middle section remains as the main inn, and it was used as a storehouse for ammunition during the Revolutionary War. It is believed that this inn was inherited by Henry David Thoreau’s father in 1801. Thoreau also stayed in the inn for two years before studying at Harvard University. (source)
5 Black Horse Tavern & Pub ( Mendham, New Jersey) – 1742
The Black Horse Tavern & Pub is among New Jersey’s continuously oldest-running restaurants for 300 years. It was built in 1742. They serve a wide variety of American classics that have been updated to suit the post-revolutionary tastes of Americans.
The oldest available information on this tavern is that it was sold by someone named Joseph Peirce in 1768. It had 53 acres of land then.
Later, in 1806, it was reported to have an area of 80 acres. Noah Wyman owned the tavern during the Revolutionary War. Locals congregated at the tavern for snacks and gossip. (source)
6 The Clinton House (Clinton, New Jersey) – 1743
The Clinton House is a historic restaurant built around 1743. It is located in the heart of the Historical Community of Clinton, NJ. This place has been serving traditional American classic food in their famous rustic country ambiance.
The Clinton House was a former inn that offered shelter to weary travelers. It was conveniently located between New York and Pennsylvania and was used as a stopping point.
The inn has been operational since 1743. Some old logbooks discovered from the restaurant’s archives state that a full course meal was available then for $1. The inn was later sold to Mary Ann and Pete Gialias in 1995. They were the former owners of The Mountain View Chalet in Plettenberg. (source)
7 Rocky Hill Inn ( Rocky Hill, New Jersey) – 1745
The Rocky Hill Inn has a very interesting history. Built around 1745, this inn had been an integral part of the community there. The Rocky Hill village is an old one located on a stone ledge.
Earlier, this village belonged to the Unami tribe, the Lenni Lenape Indians. The first “tavern license” was given to the Rocky Hill Inn’s owners, the Harrison family, in 1745. Washington visited this historic inn during his campaign. This inn remained with the Harrison Family throughout the 18th century.
Later, Isaac Scout purchased it in 1825. He enlarged the structure, and it was then used for community gatherings and assemblies. Later, It was sold to Wesley Morris in 1860. He renamed it the Dey Hotel. In 1873, the new owner, I. E. Stryker, renamed it the Danley Hotel. The hotel again got its old name, Rocky Hill Inn, in 1880 by William Gabriel, who also added the third floor. (source)
8 The ’76 House ( Tappan, New York) – 1754
The ‘76 House is a historic, colonial-era structure built as a tavern in Tappan, New York in 1754. It was built by Casparus Mabie, a merchant and inn-keeper.
The ‘76 House was a famous tavern and inn, much used during the American Revolutionary War as a meeting ground for local patriots. It also served as a prison in 1780 for Major John Andre 1780, who happened to be a notorious spy during the Revolution.
It later served as the headquarters for General Nathanael Greene when the Continental Army encamped in Tappan.
The inn was purchased in 1987 by Rob Norden and is now operated by his son, Rob. The Nordens went to a great extent to restore the old structure so that the place would not lose its historic charm. (source)
9 Fraunces Tavern (New York, New York) – 1762
Fraunces Tavern is a famous museum and restaurant in New York City. It is located at the corner of Broad Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. This place played a prominent role before, during, and after the American Revolution.
Fraunces Tavern was originally built in 1719 as a home to a local colonial leader. Later, it was sold at an auction to Samuel Fraunces who owned it from 1722 to 1795. He was a merchant of French-West Indian ancestry in 1762.
Fraunces converted his home into the “Queen’s Head Tavern” in 1762. He was popular with the elite in New York, as his tavern was a popular place for classic dishes and beverages. (source)
10 The Griswold Inn ( Essex, Connecticut) – 1776
The Griswold Inn is one of the oldest continuously run taverns in Connecticut, having been active since 1776. It was founded by three brothers in the late 18th century. They named it after their family name, “Griswold.” This inn was later captured by the British troops and used as a base for their operations during the war of 1812.
This inn welcomed weary travelers in 1776 and is serving hungry guests even now. Today, it is the oldest bar in Connecticut. It has been under the care of only six families since its beginning.
In its earlier years, the inn housed the famous tradesman who built the first warship for the Revolution. This bar provided authentic, American classic food and spirits to visiting politicians and guests. This bar and restaurant have a fascinating history. (source)
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