From Drinkseller to Social Entrepreneur: The Parisian Working-Class Café Owner, 1789-1914

  • W. Scott Haine


Contemporary observers often referred to the working-class drinking establishment as the "church of the working class" or as the place where workers felt most at ease. This article demonstrates the' validity ofthese statements. Parisian drinksellers sold much more than drink and food; they also sold a sense of tranquility that the Parisian populace transformed into an atmosphere of domesticity by conducting much of their personal and family life in cafés, from courting to child rearing. Workers extensively asked café owners to witness marriages and baptisms. As a result, cafés, unlike eighteenth-century taverns, often were theatres of family conflict.