Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Recently, Lost City Brooks posted some photos of a fruit-drink stand in Times Square, via the blog Aaron Signs. The fruit-drink stand was called Elpine Drinks and it stood on 46th St. and 7th Ave. I've been trying to dig up information on Elpine for a few years, ever since seeing it for the first time in the movie Sweet Smell of Success.

It's the place where Tony Curtis, as press agent Sidney Falco, goes to grab a late-night hot dog and a juice in a conical paper cup, to check the newspapers and make his important phone calls.

According to the menu in the background, cream-cheese sandwiches were 15 cents and you could get a malted milk for a dime. But that, and the information posted by Brooks and Aaron, clipped from a 1969 New York Magazine, is all I know about Elpine. Otherwise, it's like this odd little chain never existed.

1955 photo via Lileks

Still, I like to think about going in there--under the smoke rings of the Camel sign, with the racket of an upstairs billiard parlor breaking through an open window, on a hot summer day, drinking fresh-squeezed juice from a paper cone in a stainless steel holder...which, by the way, you can still enjoy today at the Lexington Candy Shop.

Update: Thanks to commenter Alana for pointing us to this 1943 panoramic photo at Shorpy--here's the Elpine detail (with girls in gloves and bobby socks):

Photo: John Vachon


Mykola Dementiuk said...

I always imagined it was Grants Bar (of I may be wrong), an eatery on 42nd Street, off 7th Avenue. That place has some stories too


EV Grieve said...

Where would Sidney hang out today? Sbarro? Planet Hollywood?

Ken Mac said...

Sidney would hang at Automatic Slims!

Melanie said...

Great photos!!I think I remember the shop on 42nd street--seen by me when driving downtown as a very small child with my Dad. Ahhh.
The paper cups were great and so was the orange drink.nsa

Alana said...

you can see a frontal shot of those stretch of storefronts under the Camel sign on the Shorpy website, under the Cities subgroup. All vintage photographs in different categories since the 19th century.

chris flash said...

I always remember the newsstand in front of Howard Johnson, where Falco gets a night owl edition, only to disgustedly toss it in the trash after scanning JJ Hunsecker's column, finding none of his items included. I never thought of the Elpine.

That was a helluva film, not just for the acting and true-to-life characters and story, but because it also captures Times Square in its nitty-gritty glory -- a REAL city populated by REAL people. No yuppie shits, trust fund brats, Euro-trash, speculators and other monied transients here. THAT New York City was just wonderful!!

You might get some additional Elpine info by going to the basement at 60 Center Street (beware of the metal detectors on the ground floor!) and looking through the "Business Names Index."

Happy hunting!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't this the place that later became Orange Julius?

Matt H said...

Hunsucker: "Sidney, I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic."