Fred Harvey was the Ray Kroc of the 19th Century. In his Harvey House establishments, he created the first chain restaurants. The dining rooms he built and staffed at regular stops along the Santa Fe Railroad routes from Chicago west were greeted with joy by passengers who had previously known only the very worst in eating experiences.
Before Fred appeared on the scene, it was not unusual for the “cooks” at the eateries along the routes to simply dump the uneaten food from plates into a communal pot and re-serve it to the next group of hungry travelers. They were also known to delay service in order to assure that a large quantity of food remained on plates.
Imagine the excitement when suddenly there were linen tablecloths, silver cutlery, crystal goblets and actual cuisine. Not only that, but now the meals were served by attractive, educated and smiling Harvey Girls!