Elaine's – last call for a New York classic
May 18th, 2011
06:15 PM ET
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New York City iconic dining destination "Elaine's" will soon be serving its last meal.

The restaurant which has been celebrated in cinema, song and literature is going to close its doors on May 26th according to spokeswoman Cynthia Carway.

Though never highly regarded for its cuisine, Elaine's restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side was often the destination for the country's power elite from media and politics to entertainment and law enforcement.

Owner Elaine Kaufman who died in December 2010 at the age of 81 from complications of emphysema was just as famous, holding court since 1963. Kaufman hosted a star-studded scene that in its heyday, boasted writing royalty like George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese and Hunter Thompson as well as silver screen stars including Kirk Douglas, Michael Caine and Billy Dee Williams.

After Elaine Kaufman passed away she bequeathed her eponymous restaurant and the two buildings it occupied, to her longtime manager Diane Becker.

"This is one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," said Becker in a statement released Tuesday. "Since Elaine's passing in December...it's simply not a viable situation...The business is just not there without Elaine." Becker added.

The properties were recently put on the market for $9.5 million said Carway.

While the food was widely regarded to be rather unremarkable, the restaurant found a permanent place in pop culture with its inclusion in scenes from Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' and the recent film 'Morning Glory,' as well as a notable mention in Billy Joel's 'Big Shot': "They were all impressed with your Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine's."

For non big shots, however, Elaine's - and Elaine herself - could be some what inhospitable, relegating non-celebrities (if they could gain admittance at all) to an area nicknamed "Siberia," far away from the glittery "line" along which was seated more her illustrious clientele. Of this practice, longtime restaurant newsletter writer and "Lutece" author Seymour Britchky wrote:

"Elaine's (the restaurant) is famous for Elaine's (the proprietress's) icy, or at best cool reception of any customer she does not know. On her own territory Elaine was the boss, and she wanted everyone to realize it. For this endearing trait, (and it appears this alone) the literati made Elaine's their restaurant and Elaine their Buddha."

While Kaufman herself may have been a divisive figure in the New York City restaurant scene, her larger-than-life reputation lives on. In 2003, the New York Landmarks Conservancy declared Kaufman a "Living Legend."

Even until the last call at 4 a.m. the tributes are expected to flow. Since word spread that the restaurant will be closing, the phones haven't stopped ringing and most if not all the reservations have been spoken for.

"It's going to be an absolute zoo," said Carway.

A memorial service on behalf of Elaine Kaufman is being planned for June.

Kat Kinsman contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Classic • Critics • Restaurant News • Restaurants


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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Brenton Pfost

    Emphysema also slowly destroys the elastic fibers that hold open the small airways leading to the air sacs. This allows these airways to collapse when you breathe out, so the air in your lungs can't escape. Treatment may slow the progression of emphysema, but it can't reverse the damage. -:'^

    Take a peek at our very own web portal as well http://livinghealthybulletin.comll

    June 20, 2013 at 7:09 am | Reply
  2. The Smart Aleck@The Witty One

    You're chasing my hind end now!

    May 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  3. The Witty One@The Smart Aleck

    Last!!!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    May 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  4. Bobby G.

    Why would a "nobody" want to go to a place to be treated like a "nobody?"

    May 19, 2011 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • Bobby Bonerhead

      Why would "anybody" want to go to a place to be treated like a "somebody?"

      May 19, 2011 at 8:30 am | Reply

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