This Woman Brought All Her Lady Friends At NYC’s Fanciest Restaurant After She Was Refused Service
This woman brought all her lady friends at NYC‘s fanciest restaurant after she was refused service. The protest this woman started is a milestone in the fight for gender equality across the United States.
When journalist Jane Cunningham Croly heard that women were not allowed to attend a dinner honoring Charles Dickens, at Delmonico’s restaurant, New York City, in 1868, she decided to go straightly to the venue to make a statement by participating at this event, no matter how sexist the rules were.
The organizers lifted the ban 3 days before the event, after Jane Cunningham Croly threatened to bring hundreds of women to protest inside the restaurant during the date of the event.
View from Delmonico’s in 1906. (LOC)
Jane established Sorosis, the first independent women’s club in the US. A year after her first encounter with Delmonico’s restaurant took place, she targeted the place again. She brought all the members of Sorosis to protest against an all-male lunch that was taking place on April 20, 1869.
In the late 19th century, and even at the beginning of the 20th century, it was considered improper for women to eat in public without a man accompanying them. Since Jane brought her entire crew and walked into Delmonico like they owned the place, the restaurant manager had nothing else to do than to let them all in and serve them with whatever they desired from the menu.
This actually worked out in Delmonico’s favor, making the restaurant a central point for the progressive movement in the US. They also started to organize the Sorosis anniversaries each year.
Rendition of a Sorosis meeting in 1869. (LOC)
Sorosis was an organization created to provide women with education, a good network of relationships and to make women’s voices heard throughout the male-centered US (worldwide) society of the time. The club’s members were mostly white middle and upper-class women, but African-American clubs were also founded during the same time. According to The New York Times Learning Network, women had to “be invited, pass inspection, take a loyalty oath, and pay an initiation fee of five dollars.”
This is the response aspiring members would receive:
“We willingly admit, of course, that the accident of your sex is on your part a misfortune and not a fault; nor do we wish to arrogate anything to ourselves, because we had the good fortune to be born women… Sorosis is too young for the society of gentlemen and must be allowed time to grow. By and by, when it has reached a proper age, say twenty-one, it may ally itself with the Press Club or some other male organization of good character and standing. But for years to come its reply to all male suitors must be, ‘Principles, not men.’”
Delmonico honored the anniversary of Jane Cunningham Croly’s lunch protest in 2016 and served a throwback menu consisting of sea trout and asparagus with hollandaise and black truffle.