“Who Was First In The Chain Game?” by MDC

In 1946, Judy Garland starred in a movie called The Harvey Girls. The Harvey Girls were the beautiful young women who waited tables at the Fred Harvey restaurant chain and they were as publicly recognized as the Hooter’s Girls are today.

The Fred Harvey chain restaurants popped up in a lot of the dusty railroad towns all over the Western part of the U.S. during the late 1880’s and early 1900’s.  Much like the successful restaurants of today’s modern society, a Fred Harvey restaurant was a place to get a decent meal, to take the family for a celebration or simply to eat when the train stopped. What made the chain unique was the owner’s decision to employ an all female waitstaff, which meant that the restaurants offered an important and rare service needed by the public in what was then extremely rough cowboy country.

As it goes it was an absolutely brilliant formula and for a long time Fred Harvey’s name was synonymous in America with good food, efficient service and hot young women. Today, almost everyone is  unaware of the prominent role Harvey played in civilizing the West and raising America’s dining standards. Fred Harvey has unfortunately become one of those household names that got stashed somewhere up in the attic collecting dust right next to those old pin up calendar girls!


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