ELAINE’S, Upper East Side

The likes of your webmaster would have never been allowed past the red velvet rope, but I did manage to get a photo of the sign outside Elaine’s, the Upper East Side bar and restaurant frequented by the cognoscenti in the arts and journalism run by Elaine Kaufman from 1963 until her death in 2010. Kaufman made no bones about the stars being favored over the hoi polloi, which made her place a favorite among the well-connected.

Elaine’s was immortalized in Billy Joel’s lyrics for “Big Shot” in 1978:

And they were all impressed with your Halston dress
And the people that you knew at Elaine’s
And the story of your latest success
You kept ’em so entertained


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6 Responses to ELAINE’S, Upper East Side

  1. Tal Barzilai says:

    Is that sign still there today, or is this image outdated and it has been taken down since then?

  2. vintagejames says:

    Before the red velvet rope was installed I lived near Elaine’s and was in there (quite) a few times. It was fairly nice bar with average prices, but the food was dreadful.

    • Dave says:

      Agreed, I did not see what the big deal was there. I’ve had better food at the local pizza place, the decor was at best ehhhh! , but alot of politicians and celebrities hung out there.

    • Bob Martinez says:

      I agree completely.

      I got steamrollered into going once about 10 years ago. A friend loved the place primarily for the celebrity factor. By the time we got there it was 9:00PM on a Saturday night and we hadn’t eaten dinner. My friend said “You have to try the food here. It’s great!”

      Well, no. It was solidly mediocre, the type of stuff that’s available in hundreds of neighborhood restaurants for about 30% less. Elaine’s itself was interesting in the sense that time stopped there in the mid 1970s. There were pay phones – lots of them. The adventurous beer choices were Heineken and Lowenbrau.

      If you never went you didn’t miss much unless you were a celebrity watcher. (None were there when i went.)

  3. FM Fats says:

    For some reason the only “celeb” I used to see walking in or out of Elaine’s was Kevin McCarthy.

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