Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Durand's Restaurant Ladies' Cafe

Union Station - Atlanta (built 1871)
Durand's Restaurant Ladies' Cafe

Location: Union Station, on what is now Wall Street between Pryor Street and Central Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opened: August 1895

Closed: Probably by 1930 at the latest, when the new Union Station was constructed at Forsyth and Spring Streets

Back in late 19th-century Atlanta, Henry R. Durand (1855-1932) was the owner, president, and manager of the then-famous Durand's Restaurant at Union Station. But like nearly all eateries of this time period, Durand's was more or less reserved for the gents. Upper-class gents of course. And given that this was the southern United States under the reign of Jim Crow, specifically white upper-class gents. In fact, if you are interested, you can see a photo from Durand's all-dude birthday party from 1906, which I presume was taken at Durand's "main" Restaurant. 

But then in 1895, Durand decided to set up a second-floor cafe just for the ladies (and presumably their male escorts). As we have noted before, ladies cafes were nearly always shoehorned into marginalized commercial spaces like basements or second floors. From the Atlanta Constitution, August 4, 1895:
Atlanta Constitution (August 4, 1895)


Mr. Henry Durand, the Restauranteur, Has Opened a Charming Place.

Never was there a more complete ladies' cafe opened in Atlanta than that which Mr. Henry Durand, the well known proprietor of the celebrated Durand's restaurant at the union passenger station, has just established in the second story of his delightful place.

Hitherto Mr. Durand has been somewhat handicapped to not have at hand sufficient space to meet the demands for an extensive department for the ladies at his restaurant, but by a recent deal he has been enabled to gain quite an addition in the scope of this department, and has just opened a ladies' cafe that will prove all sufficient to the trade and a credit to Atlanta.

In fulfillment of the artistic design of loveliness and countless attractions embraced in the conception of this departure by the popular restaurateur, the ladies' cafe has been fitted up in the most beautiful fashion with all the elegant appointments common to the best restaurants of the time and decorated with beautiful palms and potted ferns which rustle and wave beneath the cooling breath of the silent fans overhead. It is one of the coolest of places, and even amid the frightful heat of midday it is a charming retreat from the blistering rays of the sun, and is irresistibly
tempting with all its stirring breezes, spotless linens, rustling palms and countless charms of culinary achievements.

The ladies' cafe at Durand's will certainly prove one of the successes of the day. It is kept fully up to the high standard of excellence that the restaurant has measured to in the past and is presided over by Miss Kate Pinckard, the most expert cashier in the city. Under her excellent guidance the department for the ladies at Durand's will be run fully up to date in every particular. Many vast improvements have been made lately in the main restaurant, too, and by the time the exposition opens Mr. Durand will be enabled to accommodate just three times as many people at the union passenger station restaurant as before.  The kitchen has been renovated and two large and capable ranges have been put into service. This department is presided over by skilled chefs, and their work is entirely satisfactory. Two large coffee urns furnish the best of French coffee made after the fashion of Mr. Durand's inimitable process. If Durand's is famous for any one thing more than for another it is for the coffee that is served there.

New refrigerators have been put in, and in point of fact the restaurant has been made new in every line.

This is one of the few times I have seen a woman's name connected with the running of a ladies' cafe. At first I was confused by all the fuss over a cashier. Than I realized that Miss Kate Pinckard really functioned as more of a general manager--a job I'm sure she never would have been allowed to have in the "main" (male) restaurant. And thought she may have functioned as a general manager, she was called a "cashier." And no doubt paid as one. 

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