"Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West--One Meal at a Time" by Stephen Fried

Feb 08, 2016, 12:34 AM

AUTHOR (Photo: Judy Garland performing "Girls With Ribbons in Their Hair Ribbons in Their Hair," from the 1942 "The Harvey Girls." With: Angela Lansbury, John Hodiak, Preston S. Foster, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger.) "Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West--One Meal at a Time" by Stephen Fried. From Booklist: "Few Americans today remember Fred Harvey, but in the era of transcontinental train travel, the Fred Harvey name stood for excellence in food, service, and accommodation. English by birth, Harvey arrived in America just before the outbreak of the Civil War. With a head for business, refined taste, and an open mind about the American frontier, Harvey migrated eventually to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he involved himself in the railroads’ explosive growth. In those early days, train passengers had to endure quick stops at depot eateries noted for foul food, surly service, and outright defrauding of their clientele. Recruiting European chefs, Harvey began building restaurants and hotels at important train junctions. These centers of social decorum, superb food, and efficient service jump-started civilization on the rough, gunslinging frontier. Harvey gained further fame for recruiting single young women as servers in his dining rooms, a business innovation ultimately inspiring an iconic American movie musical. Fried compellingly relates this endlessly surprising tale of a true American entrepreneur, illuminating how Harvey’s business practices anticipated the success of both McDonald’s and Starbucks until technological progress and social change unraveled his empire." --Mark Knoblauch.