Elaine Kaufman: 1929 – 2010

Legendary New York restaurateur Elaine Kaufman, the eponymous owner of Elaine’s on NY’s upper east side, passed away Friday, December 3, 2010.

Photo via wikipedia

Elaine’s restaurant became world renowned as a hang out for writers, publishers and other creative folk, as well as politicians, movie stars, socialites and celebrities from every field. Every obituary was as much about the celebrities she served as it was about her and her restaurant. Elaine’s and celebrity name-dropping are forever intertwined. In pop culture, it was featured in Woody Allen’s 1979 film, “Manhattan“, and in Billy Joel’s 1979 hit “Big Shot“.

Elaine’s is the subject of at least two books: “Everyone Comes to Elaine’s: Forty Years of Movie Stars, All-Stars, Literary Lions, Financial Scions, Top Cops, Politicians, and Power Brokers at the Legendary Hot Spot”*(2004) by A. E. Hotchner ; and “Last Call at Elaine’s: A Journey from One Side of the Bar to the Other”* (2008) by Brian McDonald, a former Elaine’s employee.

Last Call at Elaine’s*

Elaine lived around the corner from me, so we would occasionally pass each other on the sidewalk as she went from her building to a waiting car. But my closest association with Elaine’s was via a few older friends who were regulars there. On rare occasions, I would pop in and join them for a nightcap. One of them told me the following story: Upon getting a job as a liquor salesman, he told Elaine that he was worried that asking her for business might affect their friendship. She reportedly replied, “I don’t want either”.

1703 Second Ave.(between 88th & 89th St.)
New York, NY
(212) 534-8103

Elaine Kaufman (wikipedia)
Elaine Kaufman, Who Fed and Fussed Over the Famous, Dies at 81 (NY Times 0bituary)
Famed restaurateur Elaine Kaufman of Elaine’s dies at 81 (NY Post 0bituary)
Famed Elaine’s restaurateur Elaine Kaufman dead at 81; Eatery a favorite of NYC writers, actors
(NY Daily News obituary)

Previous articles:
Dining (and Duking) with Elaine (Vanity Fair, June 2009)
45 Years Later, Everyone Still Comes to Elaine’s (NY Times, April 2008)
Partylock at Elaine’s: 25 Years of First Names (NY Times, April 1988)
Elaine’s: A Literary Den Marks Its 20th Birthday (NY Times, April 1983)

*FTC disclosure: if you purchase books via this link, MurphGuide gets a small commission.

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