Thursday, July 24, 2008

When Showbiz Was King

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!)







9 comments:

Hilda said...

Aw, now that's sad. I hope someone decides to keep all those mementos though.

ken mac said...

I think I will steal them next time I visit!

Grieve said...

Sad indeed.
And it looks like I'll have to fight Jeremiah for the Lee Meriweather photo!

shutter said...

a tragic loss...

kjpweb said...

Ah! Who needs it! While we're at it - Ellis Island could make a fabulous outlet mall.
(sad that people only start noticing that things they value are missing, when they are already gone or it's too late to do something...)
Klaus

Josy said...

Seriously? CONDOS? What a crock! It's a crying shame, 'swhat it is.

Ming the Merciless said...

I've heard of the Michelle Pfeiffer movie called Frankie and Johnny but not this restaurant.

But that isn't surprising since I didn't grow up here. I arrived after Guilaini cleaned up Times Square.

Graham Howes said...

Sad! Karen and I are British Actors and paid our respects to this establishment - it was close to lunchtime closing but they still insisted on serving us massive great juicy steaks. A fascinating slice of history and best steaks which will be sorely missed.

Graham Howes

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see just how permeant digital memory has become in our lives. It seems like everytime I turn my head, I see something with a card slot or USB port, lol. I guess it makes sense though, considering how cheap memory has become as of late...

Ahhh, who am I to complain. I can't make it through a single day without using my R4 / R4i!

(Posted on rrPost for R4i Nintendo DS.)