Wednesday, January 30, 2013

1958 Restaurant Ads

A while back, Ephemeral New York put up a link to a 1958 Village Voice review of Gene's restaurant, citing "fantastic vintage ads for other restaurants and cafes of the era." They are fantastic vintage ads, and I thought I'd piggyback and share a few here from restaurants that have been more recently lost.

They are simple ads that appeared in the pages of the Village Voice, mostly text, a bit of illustration here and there. They use the old telephone exchanges and tout their air conditioning--a luxury.


Jade Mountain vanished in 2007 after being on Second Avenue since 1931. It had the best neon signs. Its hot-pink CHOW MEIN sign kept glowing until 2011, when it was finally removed. The main restaurant sign was crushed and carted away that same summer. It was salvaged and is currently sitting in a Bronx warehouse.

The Phoenix Theatre mentioned in the ad is today's Village East. (Take a look back.)


We lost El Faro very recently--just this October when it was closed indefinitely while the owners try to raise the money to pay off a number of fines to the city. It opened in 1927.


The Minetta Tavern, opened in 1937, closed in 2008 when the landlord raised the rent too high for the owner to manage. The original owner's son tried to take over, but could not afford the luxury-level rent. Trend-maker Keith McNally took over, gave the place a glittering polish for the swanky set, and took away the portrait of the infamous Joe Gould.


Chumley's, oh Chumley's. The great "writers' rendezvous" collapsed in 2007 and still hasn't been restored, though we hear it will become a (blasphemy!) sports bar. Revisit it in a lovely scene from the Woody Allen film Another Woman.


Finally, the Beatrice Inn, the ravaged and debauched Italian grandmother of West 12th, vongerichtified and vanquished. One of our vanished red-sauce joints recently turned haute cuisine. At least the neon sign was lovingly restored.  

New York put together an Oral History of the Beatrice Inn that manages to skip over its long life as a real place, before it "ruled as a subterranean bar for fashion designers, editors, stylists, and the celebrities and young socialites." Well, it is mentioned in passing as an "old restaurant," quirky, strange, and full of garbage.


13 comments:

Timothy Nolan said...

Thanks for the Beatrice Inn shoutout. Our first apartment in the Village was at W4th and W12th, our landlords were Aldo and Elise Cardia who owned/ran the Beatrice before the yuppie hoards descended. We used to go to the restaurant to pay our rent. Charles Kuralt was at the bar. Inevitably Aldo would say "come in the back" offer me a glass of wine, and we would chat. He reminded me of my grandfather, a Bronx barber, who would not miss a chance to chat with, well, anyone. First month we paid, we hadn't set up our account yet, so when I went there I said, "Can I assume you'll take cash?" He smiled, gave me a bottle to take home, patted me on the back and said, "good luck in your new home!" Kind of like a Neapolitan George Bailey. I loved the Village then.

Today you pay your rent over the Internet.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Timothy, thank you for that personal portrait of Aldo. lovely!

Anonymous said...

I just read the retch inducing 'Oral History of the Beatrice Inn'. Ever see your dog spazing out before he pukes on the floor? That's what I feel like now...

John Ronan said...

Chumley's can also be seen in "The Wolfen" with Tom Waits at the piano.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'll get slammed for this. But here goes. While I also pine for an old New York, there is a part of me that wonders, well, if these places are forced to close because of higher rents, is it not a good thing that the McNally's of the world attempt to reopen in the spirit using the same name and location? I know, I know it's different now. And it would be nice if the landlords weren't greedy (is that not the root cause?) But seems the alternative would be that they disappear altogether. Maybe that's a better option?

Rolf said...

At anon 11:12.

For an answer to your question, I'll point you to the Stephen King book Pet Sematary.

Once you've read it, you tell me whether you'd want a zombie place that seems the same from outside appearances or whether you would just want the place to rest in dignity.

Sure there are some people who would say the former. Those are the current patrons of Bill's Gay 90's, Fedora, Beatrice Inn, probably the new Lenox Lounge, etc. etc.

I could be wrong and have been in the past, but you'll probably not find much agreement here among this site's patrons (of which I include myself)for that choice.

Anonymous said...

The problem w/ your argument is that as common people w/ a normal income we would not even be admitted to these restaurants, and if, on a slow nite, we were, we wouldnt want to pay the ridiculous prices they charge for an 'authentic village scene' restaurant.

laura r. said...

anon 8:56, i understand your point. BUT since so many traditional spaces are becoming frozen yogart......this is far better. look @ gino as an example. what im saying is that it is the lesser of the 2 evils. god forbid an ihop was there instead of beatrice inn, or a lap top coffee place. i have been to waverly inn, yes its expensive to go there regularly! but he kept the interior the same. i rather see glamour & the old sign & somewhat of a revival. (yes there are some tacky offensive "re do's"). as for nice inexpensive places, someone has to do that, but i think the scene has left manhattan. everyone has to accept this.

Marty Wombacher said...

Cool to see those old ads! And I agree with Rolf, 1000%!

Anonymous said...

Who told you chumleys is becoming a sports bar?

That was immediately debunked a few years ago by the owner.

The would be fools as the owner said to alter it in any way.

Its a gold mine

Mark said...

I ate at every one of those restaurants for years!

mingusal said...

That old Voice issue is something of a goldmine, from the ads for long-gone restaurants (and at least one still-open one: Sevilla), to all of the ads for $100 to $200/month apartments on the last page, to the rather unenlightened Steve Allen vs. Mississippi residents debate over his audaciousness in putting actual black people on TV. A reminder, if one was needed, that the past was a mixed bag too.

Uncle Waltie said...

Does anyone remember a restaurant on Bedford Street that had a kitchen like setting downstairs and a living room feel upstairs. It was like a town-house apartment. Was it called "Mary's" ? I used to take my date(s) there.