Yesterday, Gothamist posted a gorgeous group of photos by Sol Libsohn, all taken of New York City restaurants in 1938. The first photo in the batch has no story attached to it, but it jumped right out at me.
Do you recognize it?
Sol Libsohn, MCNY
Aside from looking rather Hopperesque, this image of the R&L Lunch looks very familiar--as the earliest incarnation of the former Florent. It's that little 69 in the upper left corner that really gives it away.
This space opened as the R&L luncheonette in 1938--making it brand new in the above photo. In 1955, it became the R&L Restaurant, with the lovely chrome sign that remains today. Owned by Ari Lucas, the R&L was a place where longshoremen and meatpackers would dine at night--they called it "Eatem and Beatem," according to the Chicago Sun, "because they would zip in and out around 3 in the morning."
In 1985, Lucas' daughter took over the R&L and rented it to Florent, which closed to great communal sorrow in 2008. Today it's some kind of upscale wine bar. Is the "R&L" in the floor still there?
In any case, it's always exciting when these rare photos surface, helping us to reassemble the scattered pieces of the vanished city.
P.S. Also familiar--that menu board. Though Florent's was covered in a kind of poetry.