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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

The Grant Grill Six: 50 years ago women staged ‘lunch-in’ at San Diego restaurant to protest ‘men only’ rule

The date was June 17, 1969 when several women arrived at Grant Grill during the lunchtime rush and refused to leave.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO — During a time of sit-ins, sleep-ins, love-ins and other public demonstrations, a group of women in San Diego held a lunch-in at Grant Grill to protest its sexist rules. For 14 years, the restaurant located at the U.S. Grant Hotel downtown had not allowed women inside before 3 p.m. and after 3 p.m. they had to have a male escort. The date was June 17, 1969 when several women arrived at Grant Grill during the lunchtime rush and refused to leave despite a Maître d' telling them they could not stay.  

News 8 was there to capture the historic moment in 1969 and revisited the footage in the clip below from 1981. 

“I’m not here to protest anything, but rather to affirm my rights as a person,” Helen Pain is shown saying in 1969.  

The vintage video reveals that the Maître d' actually cried that day and described regular patrons as being "horrified." Three of the ladies were on hand for a luncheon hosted at the restaurant 12 years later where they shared memories from that important day.  

The rule was done away with just a few years after the ladies' lunch-in.

In 1995, the five surviving members of “The Grant Grill Six” - as they came to be known – were honored at a plaque unveiling and luncheon at the restaurant. The ladies said they had been seated in the far back on that summer day in 1969 and that it took three hours to be served cold mock turtle soup, but they stayed to make their point. The plaque recognized the women’s contribution to the women’s right movement. The brief clip below shows the ladies being treated much better than they were in 1969.  

It has been 50 years since The Grant Grill Six staged their “lunch-in” and we wanted to mark the milestone by sharing memories of that fateful day in the hopes their efforts not be forgotten. 

The Grant Grill Six are:  

Pat Jacoby 

Kay Jarvis 

Helen Pain 

Rusty Walker 

Sydney Windle 

Valeda Turner 

Credit: KFMB

Below are pages we dug out of the News 8 archives from the original 1969 script that went with the story.