Caterers & Hoteliers
African Americans in Food Service
F ree Blacks often worked as peddlers, stewards or cooks, or hawked and vended food.  In addition to those occupations, free blacks also were waiters, caterers, shopkeepers, and innkeepers.  In New York City, for example, Blacks established an early foothold in catering and hostelry.  Black caterers such as Thomas Dorsey, Henry Jones, and Henry Minton, established a monopoly in Philadelphia in the mid-1800s.

Cooks, Chambermaids & Hoteliers
Credit: Photo courtesy Schomburg Digital Archives

One of the best known black caterers in Philadelphia was Robert Bogle, a former waiter.  Bogle acquired substantial wealth from his catering business. 

Black Eating Saloon
Credit: Photo courtesy Schomburg Digital Archives

Among other Philadelphia African Americans who prospered at catering were James LeCount, James Prosser, Jeremiah Bower, and Peter Augustine--whose business lasted until the early 1900s. They became well known for dishes like lobster salad, chicken croquettes, deviled crab, and terrapin. 

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