Fred Harvey – 1835-1901
Harvey immigrated to the United States from England in 1850 and entered the restaurant business. After the failure of his restaurant in St. Louis, he found work as a railroad freight agent. Observing the abysmal quality of railroad dining accommodations throughout the West, Harvey approached the Santa Fe Railroad with a proposal that he open a restaurant at the Topeka, Kansas, depot. This became the basis of a chain of Fred Harvey restaurants all along the Santa Fe line—the first American restaurant chain, precursor of the fast-food chains of the 20th century. Associated with the restaurants were the famous “Harvey Girls,” waitresses Harvey brought out West to serve in his establishments. These women often became the wives of western bachelors.