Turning the Tables

Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920

By Andrew P. Haley

376 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-0980-5
    Published: August 2013
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7792-0
    Published: May 2011

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Awards & distinctions

2012 James Beard Foundation Book Award in Reference and Scholarship

Finalist, 2012 International Association of Culinary Professionals Book Award in Culinary History

In the nineteenth century, restaurants served French food to upper-class Americans with aristocratic pretensions, but by the turn of the century, even the best restaurants cooked ethnic and American foods for middle-class urbanites. In Turning the Tables, Andrew P. Haley examines how the transformation of public dining that established the middle class as the arbiter of American culture was forged through battles over French-language menus, scientific eating, cosmopolitan cuisines, unescorted women, un-American tips, and servantless restaurants.

About the Author

Andrew P. Haley is associate professor of American cultural history at the University of Southern Mississippi.
For more information about Andrew P. Haley, visit the Author Page.


"Turning the Tables is an engaging read."--LA Weekly blog

"Turning the Tables is a significant contribution to existing scholarship on class, culture, and consumption."--Journal of Illinois History

"Scholars of food, culture, and the middle class will find this book useful . . . . It offers diverse sources and avenues for future exploration while establishing the prominence of middle-class dining culture in urban America."--H-SHGAPE

"[A] very interesting and useful study of the evolution of public dining in the United States." --Journal of American History

"Haley’s book reinforces the importance of consumption as a vehicle for class formation and does immeasurable service in exploring restaurants as one of the important sites where this occurred."--American Historical Review

"Haley makes great use of an astonishing collection of sources, such as menus, trade journals, popular magazines, and cartoons, to produce an engaging history that sheds fresh light on the creation and meaning of the American middle class and that will encourage readers to think more deeply about their decision about where to go for dinner."--The Historian

Multimedia & Links

Follow Haley on Twitter @HistoryCult.

Stay in touch at the Turning the Tables Facebook page.

Listen: Haley joins the Freakonomics radio podcast discussion "There's No Such Thing As a Free Appetizer." (6/19/2014, running time 37:43)

Listen: Haley is interviewed for this web extra from BackStory with the American History Guys for the episode "Fair Wages: A History of Getting Paid." (3/28/2014, running time 9:21)

Listen: Haley gives insight about the history of tipping in this Marketplace story, "Do you tip your barista?" (3/12/2014, running time 2:00)

Listen: Haley joins the conversation about restaurant behavior in this CBC Radio episode of The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. "Why the customer is not always right" (4/19/2013)

Listen: Haley is interviewed at the New Books Network.

Read: Haley's guest post, "Hummus and Bugles," on the UNC Press Blog.