Elaine’s: The Rise of One of New York’s Most Legendary Restaurants from Those Who Were There by Amy Phillips Penn

Going further into my 1970’s retro reading campaign, I picked up this slim volume of essays that describe the scene of Elaine’s Restaurant in New York and how it was indelibly tied to Elaine herself – a woman with a big personality and a bigger heart.

If you have ever watched Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”, you will remember the scene where they are dining at a restaurant. That was Elaine’s and Woody Allen, among mnay others was one of their regulars.

The great thing about Elaine’s, was that it operated like a modern New York salon where Elaine’s main job was to ensure that whatever you did in life, especially if you were a writer, you met the right people in the right industries who would further your career.

Each essay is a remembrance from an individual whose life was either touched or changed by Elaine. The best part? Elaine called the shots. If she thought you were best served by sitting at a table full of celebrities, that’s where you sat. If she thought someone had potential or talent, she would not hesitate to kick a “star” to the worst tables at the back.

Most people who grew up in the 1970’s will recognize references to Elaine’s in books, music and movies. Elaine’s was everywhere. People magazines of the time had as many snaps at Elaine’s as Studio 54.

Sadly, Elaine’s the Restaurant could not survive the demise of its namesake. It closed its doors and this book is a wonderful summary of a life and an institution. Short but sweet read.


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