It’s no secret that the restaurant business has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Restaurants thrive on social interaction and dining room capacity limits and the on-again-off-again bans on indoor service have shrunk their customer base, and forced an increasing number of them to make the difficult decision to close for good. Here, for example, are the saddest restaurant closings of 2020.
Particularly lamentable is the demise of institutions that have served their communities for generations, often under the same family ownership — places like the 84-year-old Louis’ in San Francisco, the 87-year-old El Chapultepec in Denver, the 91-year-old “21” Club in Manhattan, and downtown L.A.’s century-old Pacific Dining Car.
On the other hand, some old restaurants have thus far managed to survive, and — remarkably — at least seven of them around the country are more than 150 years old.
Coming up with a definitive list of such places is tricky. Some have closed and reopened more than once. Some have changed locations. The contemporary incarnation of Fraunces Tavern in downtown New York City, for instance, opened in 1762 and once frequented by George Washington, has no discernible connection to the original beyond occupying the same building.
And is it fair to count bars and taverns that may or may not have served something to eat over the years, like the 1776-vintage Tap Room at the Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut? Maybe, but they’re not included here. (These are the oldest bars in every state.)
Historians and local advocates might propose other places that should be on this list, but according to research done by 24/7 Tempo, these are America’s oldest restaurants.