The New York Public Library is currently showing an exhibit about lunch and New York City — and since New York is a city about power, obviously the power lunch makes a considerable showing.And (given this write-up of the exhibit in The Paris Review) we’ve finally confirmed that Wall Streeters were the first power lunchers.
We suspected it all along, of course.
The PR piece talks mostly about the famous Round Table lunch at The Algonquin, where The New Yorker was born, but it also touches on where the power lunch itself was born.
The time: Around 1830.
The place: Delmonico’s
The earliest power lunches likely took place in the 1830s at Delmonico’s, whose culinary wizardry (Lobster Newburg, Baked Alaska) and prime location in the financial district made it popular with well-heeled suits. Apart from the occasional visit from such authors as Charles Dickens or Mark Twain, Delmonico’s remained largely populated by business and finance moguls. Other powerful groups gathered at different locales over the years: playwrights and actors descended upon Sardi’s in the theatre district in the forties, while wealthy socialites clustered at Le Cirque, Le Pavillion, and La Grenouille in the fifties and sixties, earning the not-entirely-flattering nickname “ladies who lunched.”
Doesn’t that make you want to grab a steak and get back to your roots?