No Men Had to Chaperone This Ladies Luncheon

Exactly 150 years ago, Delmonico's became the first to host a women's-only lunch. The pioneering restaurant celebrated with a lunch from celebrated chef Gabrielle Hamilton.

By Beth Kormanik May 11, 2018, 7:15 AM EDT

Photo: Denis Leon

Forget ladies who lunch—restaurants 150 years ago would not serve women who arrived “unchaperoned” by a man. That changed when Delmonico's welcomed a women's rights organization, a group called the Sorosis Club, for lunch on April 20, 1868, becoming the first restaurant in the United States to do so.

To commemorate that milestone, the restaurant hosted a Ladies' Luncheon for 150 guests, planned by special events director Carin Sarafian, that took place 150 years to the day of the original event.

With Katy Perry's “Roar” playing in the background, guests started with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on the restaurant's lower level. Printed cocktail napkins featured quotes from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, and Ayn Rand.

For lunch in the main dining room, Delmonico's invited Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune in New York's East Village (who just took top honors as outstanding chef at the 2018 James Beard Awards) to develop the menu, which was based on one of the original Delmonico’s Ladies’ Luncheon menus. In addition, Jacqueline Ebanks, executive director of the city's Commission on Gender Equity, addressed guests.

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