Those Were the Days

by Erin Feith, Research Assistant
February 7, 2023

Day’s Restaurant, Park Place (west side of Green), Morristown

In the mid-19th century, Morristown found its sweet spot with the opening of Wilbur F. Day’s confectionery and bakery on Park Place. Building upon his knowledge of candy and ice cream making, Day expanded his business to include a restaurant that’s catering services were sought by some of the area’s most well-to-do residents. Over the generations, the Day family and their thriving enterprise became a part of the fabric of the Morristown community. 

Wilbur F. Day Jr.

Opening his doors in 1862, Wilbur F. Day made a name for himself with superior products made from only the best ingredients. The quality and variety of Day’s offerings, from fresh-made bread to lobster chops croquette to ice cream, appealed to the local society, many of whom placed Day’s on par with New York City’s famed Delmonico’s. Indeed, during the ensuing decades, it was difficult to find a community event where the dinner or dessert was not supplied by Wilbur F. Day’s establishment.

The Day family also held a prominent place in their community. Wilbur F. Day was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Washington Association, and a charter member of the Resolute Hook and Ladder Company.  His eight children attended local schools and most remained in the area into adulthood. Wilbur F. Day, Jr. followed closely in his father’s footsteps, assuming ownership after his death in 1913. Along with guiding the business into the 20th century, Day Jr. also established his own roots in town, marrying Cora Young (one of the 487 known students of the Morristown Sewing School) and joining the Resolute Hook and Ladder Co. Branching into local leadership roles, he became the Chief of the Morristown Fire Department and president of the Board of Education.

In a testament to its reputation, the restaurant was hired by Mrs. Robert D. Foote to provide full service -from sandwiches and refreshments to linens, chairs and nearly 40 waitstaff- for a wedding with 500 guests in 1915.

Wilbur F. Day Jr., with the assistance of his son Wilbur F. Day III, carried the restaurant through the First World War and the Great Depression. However, with the outbreak of World War II and his son’s duty to the Navy, he sold the Day’s establishment in 1942 to Wallace Childs, another restaurateur. The original building was later demolished to become a part of Epstein’s Department Store, but a brief trip down memory lane proves that it is impossible to forget the good ol’ Days.