Tuesday, February 14, 2012

R&L Lunch

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.

my flickr

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.


Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Was nice to see the photos and of the First Avenue market on 1st Ave between 9th and 10th, that was included. They had chickens and meat of all kinds. When I was a kid I especially liked crawling around the aisles and looking at the items on display. That place was a feast for a little kids eyes. I don't know why it was closed, was a Puerto Rican theater group for awhile, later some kind of drug center. I don't know what it is now.

Anonymous said...

This luncheonette reminded me of the little cafe that was off the lobby of The Empire Hotel. I stayed there in the '80s until they rennovated the hotel. Any pictures of that place anywhere?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Nice. "Ladies Invited"!

Marty Wombacher said...

I love that top photo and the "Ladies Invited" line on the window! Thanks for posting it!

BabyDave said...

Yes, "Ladies Invited" is the best!

julie wilson said...


Gerry said...

My father Walter ("Walla") went to work as a counterman at R&L Lunch around 1947. It was owned by its founder Charlie Resko, a Russian immigrant, and his wife Annie. The present premises was built on the site over the summer of 1950. 1950 for sure. The big place was a lifelong dream of Charlie's, but he was perhaps too old to run it by then; around 1953 he sold it to a partnership comprising Steve Yeurikis, Paul Fidis, and my father. Charlie died in 1954. "Charlie's" as it was commonly known was renowned for its sandwiches with meat piled on three inches thick. My father left it around 1957.

Gerry said...

That's Charlie Resko, the founder, in the photo. I think the lady in the photo is Ilona, who waitressed in "Charlie's" for many years. She claimed to be a countess from some eastern European nation, displaced by World War I.

Unknown said...

Is this the same R & L Restaurant shown in the first Men in Black movie where the bug exterminates the two emissaries protecting the “light of Dartha?” Just curious as I’ve been downtown many times growing up in Brooklyn but always wondered about this? Ed