Today we celebrate Frankie & Johnnie, one of the oldest steakhouses in Manhattan. Formerly a speakeasy during 1930s prohibition days (patrons knocked on its unmarked door and whispered "Frankie" to which the doorman replied "Johnnie" and admittance was granted), F&J has consistently been voted one of the best steakhouses in America by Zagats. (click pics for enlargement)
It's easy to miss F&J's signage on 45th near 8th. But once you scale its pretty tiled staircase its history is revealed. I imagine F&J was a regular pre-show haunt for celebrities waiting to appear on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show - they autographed the many PR photos which fill the restaurant's walls. "The Odd Couple," Julie Andrews and Liza Minelli hang next to forgotten '60s celebs like Nanette Fabray, Jack Weston and the Cat Woman, Lee Meriweather.
But nothing lasts forever. Frankie & Johnnie will close by year's end, making way for another desperately needed condo for wealthy New Yorkers and tourists. History and steak make way for shopping opportunities, flush wallets, and clean sidewalks. (Hope CDP doesn't bust me for all these pics!)