You don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C., to immerse yourself in our nation’s history.
A FiDi restaurant with nearly 300 years of stories to tell is featured in a new episode of Fox Nation’s “What Made America Great.” The tales behind Fraunces Tavern, one of the oldest restaurants in the city, span its role in the Revolutionary War and its time as the headquarters for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Open since 1762, the establishment is now a city landmark and museum.
In the 30-minute episode, now available for online streaming, series host Brian Kilmeade heads back to the 1700s, when George Washington was a frequent diner and used the space to bid farewell to his Continental Army officers. He also revisits the 1975 bombing at the tavern that killed four and left more than 40 injured, through a chat with a victim’s son.
“During the episode, we discover not only what George Washington said to his officers and how he was so overcome with emotion that he could not finish his speech but also take his very path to his awaiting barge as if it was 225 years ago,” Kilmeade teases.
Below, the Fox Nation host previews the episode and fills us in on the venue’s history in time for President’s Day.
You’ve toured some amazing places across the country while filming “What Made America Great.” What makes Fraunces Tavern worthy of standing alongside the likes of the Alamo and the Lincoln Memorial?
Each show was a group effort and usually came together after several brainstorming sessions with my team. I knew about Fraunces Tavern through my research for my book “George Washington’s Secret Six.” Along the way, I found the short memoir of a major who was by George Washington’s side during the war and during his farewell address. The memoir described the bar in such detail that I just knew it would be worthy of our audience.
In your opinion, why does a long-lasting establishment like Fraunces Tavern ‘make America great’?
I love that this country tries to preserve its history from the big city to the small towns. In the case of Fraunces Tavern, it shows that despite New York City’s unending push to get bigger and better, every administration says hands off on anything George Washington has touched. This shows a respect for our past while still looking to our future. After all, he was the one who pushed the British out for good.
Tell us more on what you learned about George Washington’s connection to the tavern.
George Washington had taken back the city two full years after the British surrendered and it seems that England just didn’t get the message that they lost. Tired of waiting, he took his officers calmly through midtown to downtown and thankfully the British left without firing a shot, greasing the flag pole as a final dig so we would have trouble hanging the stars and stripes.
After a few days of establishing control of NYC and pushing out the Tories, he asked for an officers meeting at his favorite pub, Fraunces Tavern. All attended on the second floor at which time he had it clear that he was saying goodbye and wanted to salute them for the fearless leadership and extreme loyalty for what many people thought was a lost cause. He would come back in 1789 to the same tavern as the first President of the United States, the first residence right across the street. He would spend many nights offering food and coming by for dinner and drinks, it was definitely a special place.
Looking to the future, are there other NYC locations you’re eager to explore?
Right now, I am not permitted to reveal future episodes but just know I will be exploring New York City’s rich American history! [New York City is] not only worthy of our focus but so very convenient for our producers and crew.