The Union Oyster House is the Oldest Continually Running Restaurant in the U.S.


The Union Oyster House

It’s difficult to name the oldest restaurant in the United States. This is because there were taverns serving food as well as boarding houses serving meals to their guests and other such places, making it difficult to define a “restaurant.” However, one establishment, the Union Oyster House, established in 1826, has been the longest-running restaurant in the country. Since it opened in Boston, MA is has had a continual run and still remains open. It is located on the Freedom Trail and is one block from Faneuil Hall. It is sometimes referred to as America’s oldest restaurant. The building it’s in dates back to Pre-Revolutionary days. One of the constant customers was Daniel Webster. It was reported that Webster had a daily drink in a tall tumbler of brandy and water with each half-dozen oysters he consumed. He seldom ate less than six plates of oysters.

The U.S. and Oysters

America had the first serving of oysters in 1763. The serving was at a primitive saloon opened in New York City in a cellar on Broad Street. Interest in the delicacy took hold and became more popular with the passing of time. However, there was some delay as the American Revolution was quickly approaching. “The Massachusetts Spy,” long known as the oldest newspaper in the country, was published in the upper floor of the same building where the Union Oyster House was eventually established. The printer, Isiah Thomas, wrote about the pending war. By the 19th century, Americans created an oyster craze. Oyster eateries were opening in every town. Soon there were oyster parlors, cellars, saloons, bars, houses, stalls, and lunchrooms. 

The Toothpick At The Union Oyster House

If you ever wonder where the toothpick originated in America, it was at the Union Oyster House. One man, Charles Forster, was a businessman who first imported toothpicks from South America. Since no one knew or understood what the tiny piece of wood was for, he hired Harvard boys to eat at the restaurant and ask for toothpicks. It wasn’t long before the customers were asking for the picks. One family who used the toothpicks were the Kennedy’s. They were said to have patronized the restaurant for years. Former President John F. Kennedy enjoyed eating in the upstairs dining room. at “The Kennedy Booth.” The booth has since been dedicated to his memory.

Today The Union Oyster House Serves Lunch, Dinner, Dessert

Customers at the Union Oyster House often agree that the clam chowder is the best they’ve ever eaten. A cup can be gotten for $7.50 or a bowl for $9.95. The dessert menu includes warm apple cobbler and Boston cream pie, each selling for $8.95. Fish & Chips go for $17.95. A lobster roll sandwich has a price tag of $27.95. If you desire a cup of international coffee, you can choose between an Expresso or Cappuccino for $11.50. There are also a variety of other coffees. These prices seem kind of high for what you get; however, you are exposed to a considerable amount of history when you go to the Union Oyster House.

Oysters are not to everyone’s liking, including myself. Give me a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich any day of the week.