Horn and Hardart was co-founded by Frank Joseph Hardart, Sr. and Joseph V. Horn, who became restaurant partners in 1886. They opened the first automat in the United States in Philadelphia in 1902. It opened in New York between 1010 and 1920, eventually becoming, for a period of time, the world's largest restaurant chain. It also had retail stores. Automats were popular well into the 1960s, but they began to decline with the rise of fast-food restaurants. Horn and Hardart did expand their operations in 1981, by acquiring Bojangles' Famous Chicken n' Biscuits restaurants, but they sold it in 1990. The last Horn and Hardart automat closed in April 1991.
Joseph V. Horn was born in Philadelphia in 1861 and died in Philadelphia in 1941, aged 80.
Frank Joseph Hardart, Sr. was born in Sondernheim in 1852, and he emigrated to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, in 1858. He married Marie Bruen in 1878, and they had six children. Their eldest child Frank Joseph Hardart, Jr., born 1884, graduated from St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia in 1905, and he took over for his father at Horn and Hardart. Frank Joseph Hardart, Jr. married Evelyn Marie Roche, and they had four children. Their eldest child Thomas R. Hardart was born in New York, Queens, New York, in 1918. He was the president and chairman of Horn and Hardart from 1967 to 1972.
Frank Joseph Hardart, Sr. died in 1918, at the age of 66. Frank Joseph Hardart, Jr. died in New York, New York, on September 15, 1972, when he was 88 years old. Thomas R. Hardart died on November 1, 1988, at the age of 70.