At the encouragement and direction of the Woman’s Club of Evanston, Lillian Davidson creatda a cafeteria in 1906 as a place for Northwestern students and Evanston visitors to eat an affordable price and in a comfortable atmosphere. The Women’s Exchange Cafeteria was held in the former home of Dr. Henry Bannister, a professor at Garrett Biblical Institue, which later turned into the Withington School for Boys (before becoming the cafeteria). Lillian Davidson and her family made some additions to the building and for thirty years this family-run cafeteria thrived. The family ultimately sold the building to Chicago-based Otoe Corporaation in April 1938 and the Cafeteria closed in November 1938.
The Women’s Exchange Cafeteria (which did not exclusively serve women) was one of the first, if not the first, cafeterias in the U.S. A family owned and operated institution for over thirty years, the cafeteria became widely known as a place for people to eat good in a comfortable atmosphere at an affordable price.