Jump to content

Oldest Restaurants in the New York City Area


Recommended Posts

Feeling a little misty-eyed and nostalgic about Chef Itoh's passing, I'd like to begin a group project to honor the oldest restaurants in the New York City area, mirroring the one we've maintained for years in Washington, DC. Surrounding areas are included, and since our community was founded on April 15, 2005, anything that was open on that date is included as well.

1767 - Fraunces Tavern (Financial District, originally called "Queens Head Tavern," damaged and rebuilt several times)
1794 - Bridge Cafe (was a grocery store for several decades in the early 1800s)
1817 - James Brown House (now The Ear Inn ("Ear" is a clever change of "Bar" due to zoning laws))
1827 - Delmonico's (23 William St. destroyed in 1835, revived at 56 Beaver St., origin of several dishes, 1st U.S. à la carte menu and wine list)
1854 - McSorley's Old Ale House (the opening date is very much in question, see Wikipedia for details)
1859 - Killmeyer's Old Bavaria Inn
1864 - Pete's Tavern
1868 - Old Homestead Steakhouse
1874 - Ryan's (became P.J. Hanley's, then closed and reopened as Goldenrod)
1880 - White Horse Tavern
1884 - P.J. Clarke's (3rd Avenue)
1885 - Keens Steakhouse
1887 - Peter Luger Steak House
1888 - Katz's Delicatessen (Lower East Side)
1892 - Old Town Bar (Flatiron District)
1906 - Barbetta (Theater District)
1908 - Barney Greengrass "The Sturgeon King" (Upper Westside)
1908 - John's of 12th
1910 - Yona Schimmel's Knishes
1913 - Grand Central Oyster Bar (closed 1972-1974)
1914 - Russ and Daughters
1916 - Nathan's (Coney Island location)
1917 - Café Des Artistes (closed 2009, opened 2011 as The Leopold at Des Artistes)
1920 - Nom Wah Tea Parlor (perhaps the oldest Chinese restaurant in New York
1922 - 21 Club (Greenwich Village, moved in 1925, 1926, and to its current location in 1929)
1922*- Chumley's (closed 2007 due to chimey collapse, still has plans to reopen
1922 - DeFontes Of Brooklyn
1926 - Frankie and Johnnie's Steakhouse (a speakeasy during prohibition)
1927 - Gallagher's Steakhouse (birthplace of the New York Strip Steak)
1927 - The Russian Tea Room
1932*- Pal's Cabin (West Orange)
1932 - Papaya King
1933 - Patsy's Pizzeria (East Harlem)
1934*- The Rainbow Room (at the top of the RCA building (now GE building) closed 1985-1987, 2008-2014?)
1934*- Tavern On The Green (2nd-highest grossing restaurant in the U.S. in 2007, $38 million)
1936 - McGovern's Tavern (Newark)
1936 - Peter McManus
1937*- The Carnegie Deli
1937*- Stage Deli
1937 - Subway Inn (moved 2 blocks from original location in 2017)
1937 - Le Veau d'Or
1939 - Leo's Grandevous (Hoboken)
1940 - Tom's Restaurant (the setting for the mythical "Monk's Diner" on Seinfeld Episodes)
1944 - Patsy's
1945*- Ben's Best (Rego Park)
1947 - Verona Inn (Verona)
1949 - Hector's Cafe and Diner
1950 - Donohue's Steak House (Upper East Side)
1950 - Libretti's (Orange)
1950 - Junior's
1953 - Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop (Greenpoint, ownership change in 1993)
1954 - 2nd Ave. Deli (original location closed in 1996, new locations began opening in 2007)
1954 - Veselka (Lower East Side)
1956 - Billymark's West (Chelsea)
1957 - Arturo's
1959 - The Four Seasons
1962*- Big Nick's Burger Joint
1962 - La Grenouille
1962 - Hobby's Deli (Newark)
1964 - Di Fara Pizza
1964 - Sarge's Deli (Murray Hill)
1965 - Joe Allen
1966 - Donovan's Pub (Woodside)
1966 - Sparks Steakhouse
1968*- La Caridad 78 (Upper West Side)
1972 - J.G. Melon
1972 - One If By Land, Two If By Sea
1973 - Gray's Papaya (Upper West Side)
1979*- Le Train Bleu (Bloomingdale's, Upper East Side)

* Closed

[Thank you, New York City, for providing such a rich history. You are a truly remarkable city.]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

McSorley's Ale House on the Lower East Side dates to the 1850's or 1860's.   One recollection I have of that place is visiting w/ a friend wearing a U Virginia t-shirt.  The ia was covered up.  Some guys saw the word Virgin and hoisted him on up in the air.  The hearty drinkers haled him as the bar's only virgin that night and any night.

Closed on June 1 this year and near where I grew up was Pal's Cabin, first opened in 1932 and maintained by the same family for several generations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lombardi's pizza is supposedly the oldest pizza place in the US; true or not, it dates to 1905

Yona Schimmels Knishes: been making them since 1910

Russ and Daughters Appetizing (not exactly a restaurant, but you can eat a bagle with lox on the sidewalk out front, as I often did in the old days): 1914

Barney Greengrass the Sturgeon King: 1908

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Four Seasons, 1959.

According to the original NYT Craig Claibourne review, the average dinner check for two, including wine, was $40.

TFS could be, IMHO, the greatest "restaurant concept" of all time.  Part restaurant, part art museum, part architectural masterpiece.  The roster of familiar names (artists, culinarians, others) associated with it thoughout its history is truly amazing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Russian Tea Room, 1927.

Founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet near Carnegie Hall as a hangout for themselves and their pals when performing in New York.  Known for, among other celebrity things (think Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie), being Madonna's employer as a cloak room attendant before she became famous.  Excellent liver dumplings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grand Central Oyster Bar: 1913 (with a hiatus in the mid-70's)

Carnegie Deli: 1937

Stage Deli:  also 1937, but closed last November, tho it was open in 2005 and is thus qualified for the list?

Juniors (of Brooklyn): 1950 (home of the famous cheesecake)

Nom Wah Tea Parlor: 1920.  Probably the oldest still-operating Chinese restaurant in NYC.  Started with tea and baked goods.  Now serving dim sum.

Cafe des Artistes: 1917.  Closed in 2009, but reincarnated as The Leopard at des Artistes in 2011.  A very historic restaurant, patronized by celebrities particularly those in the arts, though not so well-known among the hoi polloi.  Famous for its murals of wood nymphs by Howard Chandler Christy.  Run by George Lang from 1975 until 2009.

Chumley's: 1922.  In the Village.  Once a speakeasy, it closed in 2007 due to a chimney collapse.  Re-construction has been slow and sporatic, but promises are still being made that it will re-open.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the changes are in, and this is a rich, rewarding history lesson. Interesting detail is *very welcome* in everyone's posts, which guides me to inserting the restaurants, and hopefully also adding a few words of fascinating facts as well.

Thank you everyone! Let's bolster Philly and Baltimore too! I love history, and I love working on this project.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John's of 12th  Traditional NY red sauce Italian restaurant since 1908, now experimenting with "Vegan Italian" food. Classic neon sign. Original tile floors and panels of stained glass ceiling. Candles in the back room have been burning since the place opened with the wax of each new candle melting to form a larger and larger mound of wax with each passing day. It used to be a gathering place for newspaper editorialists and Washington Square Park protest organizers during World War II and into the 1960s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tom's Restaurant:  Early 1940's.  A fixture at 112th and Broadway, serving diner food to generations of students at Columbia.  Started out as Kane's, a Jewish place, before being sold to some Greeks who re-named it.  One of my roommates, also named Tom, ate breakfast there every morning, and never had to order -- they had most of what he wanted at his spot at the counter before he sat down.  Best known to most as the setting for the mythical "Monk's" Diner on Seinfeld.  I always found it odd to see the shots of Tom's when I watched Seinfeld.

Nathan's:  1916.  The Coney Island hot dog establishment needs no introduction.

DeFontes:  1922.  Italian sandwich place originally serving longshoremen working at the Red Hook docks in Brooklyn.

Patsy's:  1944.  Famous southern Italian place frequented by numerous celebrities, particularly and most notably Ol' Blue Eyes himself (that would be Frank Sinatra for you younger readers) whose favorite restaurant it was.

There is another Patsy's, this one Patsy's Pizzeria, opened in 1933 in East Harlem, and among New York's oldest pizzerias.  The two Patsy's have been in and out of court fighting over the name for some time.  Patsy's Pizzeria now has several branches, opened by various family members and co-owners.

While we are talking about East Harlem, there is Rao's: 1896.  But unless you are an important Italian "businessman," an A-list celebrity, or a tycoon with connections, you probably had best forget about ever being able to eat there.  There is only one seating, weeknights only, and only 10 tables all of which are "owned" by various persons; it's been described as a "condominium," and basically you can only get in by invitation.  The food is said to be worth the hype.  You can, however, dine at their place in Vegas.  Or make their dishes at home from the copious recipe list on their website, which might or more likely might not be the same recipes used in the restaurant.

EDIT:  Glory be!  One day after posting the above what should appear on DR.com but this article -- so now you too can figure out how to score a table at Rao's.

Frankie and Johnnie's Steakhouse: 1926.  Another former speakeasy that became a steakhouse after the end of Prohibition. Not as widely known as some others, but good meat, especially the lamb chops IMO.  A place that has very special and fond memories for me, specifically that set of stairs in the link.  It involved a member of the fairer sex of course, (no, nothing carnal happened on the stairs).  I'll say no more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Rainbow Room: 1934.  Another of the storied New York restaurants.  At the top of the RCA Building (now the GE Building) in Rockefeller Plaza.  Originally a supper club attracting New York's elite, with a dance floor and big band performances.  Designed in the art deco style by French architect Jacques Carlu.  Closed from 1985 to 1987 for a restoration sponsored by among others David Rockefeller.  Run by the Cipriani family of Venice (Harry's Bar) from 1998, who among other things are said to have paid the Gambino crime family $120,000 to make labor troubles go away.  Closed again in 2008 ostensibly due to the economic troubles of the period.  It was declared a historic landmark last year, and is said to be re-opening in 2014.

Tavern on the Green: also 1934.  Originally a sheep barn in Central Park, it was converted into a restaurant in 1934 under the guidance of Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner at the time.  Run by several operators in the years that followed, under contract with the Parks Department.  In 1974, it came under the control of the legendary restauranteur Warner Le Roy (Maxwell's Plum, Potomac in D.C.) who enlarged it and added his own flamboyant stamp to the decor (the Crystal Room and much else), making it into one of the largest grossing independent restaurants in the U.S., serving as many as 500,000 covers per year.  John Lennon hung out there a lot in the late 70's.  The Parks Dept. finally kicked out the LeRoy family in 2009, and started operating it as a visitor center while looking for a new operator.  Numerous groups made proposals, including (who else) Donald Trump.  Currently the Emerald Green Group of Philadelphia is charged with reopening it, but whether they will succeed is anyone's guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gallagher's Steak House: 1927.  Another speakeasy-turned-restaurant at the end of Prohibition.  Claims to be Broadway's first steakhouse and the first place where the "New York strip steak" was served.  Located next door to the Alvin Theatre, it is a surviving Runyonesque shrine to prizefighters and jockeys.  Founded by Edward and Helen Gallagher, she a former Ziegfeld girl, then later run by another ex-Ziegfeld girl until, about 10 years ago, being sold to a group that had previously been involved in the Four Seasons and Rainbow Room.  They apparently took the money route, franchised it out, and are said to have dumbed down the menu and food quality.  Bought early this year by Dean Poll, who earlier tried and failed to revive Tavern on the Green.  Currently closed for renovation -- said to be reopening next month.

One if by Land; Two if by Sea: 1972.  Not so old, but with a claim to historic-ness because it is located in Aaron Burr's old carriage house, in the Village.  Acclaimed as New York's most romantic restaurant, and thus the go-to place to take your date (well, duh).

P. J. Hanley's: 1894.  Claimed to be Brooklyn's oldest bar.  Opened as Ryan's; once owned by Bushwick brewer Otto Huber, who served his own brews including one called "Goldenrod."  The place finally folded earlier this year, but has been revived as "Goldenrod," keeping the decor and ambiance of the earlier days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

P. J. Hanley's: 1894.  Claimed to be Brooklyn's oldest bar.  Opened as Ryan's; once owned by Bushwick brewer Otto Huber, who served his own brews including one called "Goldenrod."  The place finally folded earlier this year, but has been revived as "Goldenrod," keeping the decor and ambiance of the earlier days.

 
johnb, thank you for all these nuggets of history. I'm pretty sure your 1894 is a typo for 1874, so I'll go ahead and change it.
 
[For some odd reason, I cannot edit your post, but it's correct up top.]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tavern on the Green: also 1934.  Originally a sheep barn in Central Park, it was converted into a restaurant in 1934 under the guidance of Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner at the time.  Run by several operators in the years that followed, under contract with the Parks Department.  In 1974, it came under the control of the legendary restauranteur Warner Le Roy (Maxwell's Plum, Potomac in D.C.) who enlarged it and added his own flamboyant stamp to the decor (the Crystal Room and much else), making it into one of the largest grossing independent restaurants in the U.S., serving as many as 500,000 covers per year.  John Lennon hung out there a lot in the late 70's.  The Parks Dept. finally kicked out the LeRoy family in 2009, and started operating it as a visitor center while looking for a new operator.  Numerous groups made proposals, including (who else) Donald Trump.  Currently the Emerald Green Group of Philadelphia is charged with reopening it, but whether they will succeed is anyone's guess.

So here is the latest news about TOTG, from last Sunday's NYT Magazine, which I had missed but found courtesy of the Rockwell rss news feed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hector's Cafe and Diner, 1949??

A neighborhood greasy spoon in the old meatpacking district, said to have started in 1949.  What I know I learned from this article in the NYT.   Pretty colorful establishment, serving the needs of a few remaining meatcutters and late night club goers.  Located directly under the Highline at 12th and Washington.  Cash only; formica tables. It is truly an example of a place that remains, unchanged, as its surroundings have done a 180.  The meatpacking district has become trendy in the extreme, with high end restaurants, boutiques, and clubs, while most of the previous denizens have gone to New Jersey or the Bronx.  Del Posto is a few blocks away, and other nearby establishments have names like Diane von Furstenberg and Pastis.  Hector's and and a few remaining meatpackers are hanging on due to a special rent deal with the city that will last until 2032.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

John's of 12th will soon have a new owner from the Beatrice Inn (also a former GM at the Waverly Inn), who is going into this restaurant with a "preservationist" approach:

http://evgrieve.com/2013/12/about-new-ownership-for-105-year-old.html

Some history from the current owners:

http://evgrieve.com/2013/12/out-and-about-in-east-village_18.html

http://evgrieve.com/2013/12/out-and-about-in-east-village-part-2.html

(Just an editing note for the chronological list at the top of this thread -- the opening date was transposed as 1980, but John's opened in 1908.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can anyone find out about Ballato?

According to Mitch Broder, chronicler of things old New York, Ballato opened in 1956.  Here is the piece from his blog.  And once again my hat is off to Zora for digging up the information about this place.  I had a vague recollection of reading that article in the NYT and thought the place it talked about should surely be included in this list, but had no way to figure it out what it was.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gem Spa, 1920's??...under current name since 1957.  Closed for four months in 1972.

A newsstand, but more importantly the quintessential egg cream place in the East Village.  Claims (along with dozens, maybe hundreds, of others) to have invented that NY treat.  Who knows, but their version is certainly one of the best and favorites.  A hangout for the beatniks and later the hippies/radicals each in their respective eras.  Credit to Mitch Broder's blog for reminding me about it.  Here's the Wikipedia article.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Le Veau d'Or - 1937.

Although Robert Treboux is no longer seated at the head of the bar each night, Truman Capote's favorite restaurant, where Oleg Cassini met Grace Kelly, is still offering table-side carvings of Rack of Lamb in the ground floor of his townhouse, which hasn't changed since 1937.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204712904578092832738072850

http://www.nysun.com/food-drink/le-time-capsule/44331/

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2009/01/who_goes_there_le_veau_dor.php

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPrp4hum1EM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Papaya King - 1932

Now that Gray's Papaya is gone, Papaya King is nearly the last fruit juice and hot dog place left.  Cheap but good dogs, and papaya juice of course.  Probably the cheapest meal left in NYC.

Closed for six days in March of 2007 due to publicity about vermin in the building.

Thanks John.

But the original, Upper-West Side location of Gray's Papaya lives on, and since it was founded in 1973, it, too, makes the Oldest Restaurants list (scroll up to the top post).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks John.

But the original, Upper-West Side location of Gray's Papaya lives on, and since it was founded in 1973, it, too, makes the Oldest Restaurants list (scroll up to the top post).

Yes. I have been reading the rssFeeds and now understand that it was only the Greenwich Village location of Gray's Papaya that closed, and merely for the most prosaic of New York reasons, a rent hike.  The flagship location on the upper West Side, as you point out, remains open.  Which is a good thing; I remember many a good paper cup of papaya juice at that place.  I hurried back here to redo my original post, and include Gray's, and found you had the information.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a blogpost from Hannah Goldfield of the New Yorker, commenting on the Gray's Papaya closing.  I found my way to it thanks to the rssFeed.  In it there is the following quote, which has been picked up by others too:

".....the experience of eating is about much more than how good things taste. In New York, at Gray's Papaya or any culinary institution, it's about remembering what came before you, and remembering why you're here."

Great thought.  I think it pretty well sums up why it's worthwhile, even important, to keep track of the old restaurants, as we have been doing here on DR.

I crossed paths with Goldfield once -- she did the exhaustive fact checking on Calvin Trillin's original article about Peter Chang, and I spent a lot of time on the phone with her answering her questions about everything that was to be published in the article about which I had direct knowledge.  I'm happy to see she apparently is moving up a bit at that publication.  Based on that experience I must say I was impressed with how thoroughly the New Yorker checks facts for its articles.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several weeks ago I spotted a couple of articles that promised to uncover a few more candidates for inclusion in our old New York restaurant list, so I decided to follow up.  One was an article in the NYT where they asked readers to comment on their favorite old places.  Another was an article by Robert Sietsema in which he named numerous old restaurants he deems worthy of protection from increasing real estate prices and rents.  There are also several blogs, and an on-going series of articles in Eater. 

Little did I realize what I had bitten off.  Starting with the above, and with lots of link-following on Google, yields a cornucopia of historic restaurants in New York that were not yet on our list.  Many of them are famous, but nobody had posted them yet.  Three are on the James Beard "America's Classics" list (Mario's, 2nd Ave. Deli, and Totonno's).  Many are neighborhood places, but to me no less worthy of being noted.  I more-or-less arbitrarily decided to stop at 50 years ago.

I'm sure we've more than just scratched the surface, but I'm equally sure there are many more.  Nonetheless I'm pretty certain there is no more comprehensive such list anywhere than in this thread, which is particularly interesting since it appears in a DC-centric web site.  Thank you Don for starting this.

Here is the list of additions, arranged by age.  I have tried to post at least two links for each in case anyone is interested in following up.

Killmeyers Old Bavarian Inn: 1855 (approx.) [i'm using 1859 per this article - DR]

http://www.killmeyers.com/about-killmeyers/

"Killmeyer's Old Bavaria Inn" on nymag.com

  Traditional German in Staten Island.  Beer garden.  Great portions of Bavarian food, oompah bands, and dozens of beers.

Landmark Tavern:  1868

http://www.thelandmarktavern.com/

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/landmark-tavern/

  Originally a Hudson River dockworkers' place in Hell's Kitchen; now updated as a gastropub.

Brooklyn Inn:  1875 (approx.)

http://nymag.com/listings/bar/brooklyn_inn00/

  Elaborate carved wood everywhere, including the immense, 140 year old German hand-carved bar.

Sunny's Bar:  1890 

http://www.sunnysredhook.com/

http://nymag.com/listings/bar/sunnys/

  A beloved Red Hook institution.  Originally a dockworkers bar.  Severely damaged by Sandy, but now restored.  Among Time Out's 50 best NY bars.

Old Town Bar:  1892

http://www.oldtownbar.com/visit.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Town_Bar_and_Restaurant

  Nearly everything is original; the marble and mahogany bar is 55 feet long.  Huge old-style urinals.  The dumbwaiters are New York's oldest active restaurant conveyers. Used as setting for several movies and TV shows -- Madonna strutted the length of the bar in her "Bad Girl" video.

Ferrara Bakery and Cafe:  1892

http://www.ferraracafe.com/about/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrara_Bakery_and_Cafe

  Claims to be America's oldest espresso bar.  Still in the founder's family.  Enrico Caruso was a frequent visitor, and many in opera have followed since.  Located in the heart of Little Italy.

Veniero's Paticceria and Caffe:  1894

http://venierospastry.com/about.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totonno's

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/totonno-pizzeria-napolitano/

  Coal oven pizza in Coney Island.  A pizza classic.  Stays open until the dough runs out.  Serves by the whole pie only.  On the James Beard "America's Classics" list.

Lexington Candy Shop:  1925

http://www.lexingtoncandyshop.net/content/lexington-candy-shops-history

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/lexington-candy-shop/

  Upper East Side luncheonette.  Often described as entering a time warp.  A real soda fountain; Cokes made on-the-spot with syrup and a squirt of seltzer.  

Sardi's:  1927

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manganaro's

  Manganaro's was actually two restaurants established by the same family, the original Manganaro's Grosseria (1893) and Manganaro's Hero Boy which was a spin-off next door.  The original Grosseria may have invented, and certainly figured prominently in developing and introducing, the hero sandwich.  They then invented the 6-foot hero (1955) which was so successful that Hero Boy was established next door to focus on it.  Tony Bourdain featured Grosseria on No Reservations.  It closed in 2012.  Hero Boy is still in operation, but due to a change in the ownership of its building its future is unclear.  Stay tuned.

Forlini's:  1956

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2009/08/this_is_the_latest_edition.php

  Basic Italian.  Located just across the street from the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building which provides most of its business.  Not great, but good enough for a judge's lunch, not to mention the jury and the lawyers.

Gem Spa:  1957 (but direct roots back to the 1920's)

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2012/02/gem-spa-not-closed.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gem_Spa

      (Previously posted but not yet entered into the summary at the top of the thread)

  

  The quintessential egg cream place in the East Village.  Claims to have invented that NY treat.  Theirs is certainly one of the best and favorites.  Known as a newsstand that carried all the underground publications, it became a hangout for the A-list beatniks (Ginsberg, Kerouac) and later the hippies/radicals each in their respective eras. 

Tony's di Napoli:  1959

http://www.tonysnyc.com/

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/tonys_di_napoli02/

  In Times Square and the Upper East Side.  Southern Italian served family style, i.e. on large platters with enough for 2 or 3 or more.  Everybody seems to like it.

Famous Oyster Bar:  1959  (Closed Jan 26, 2014)

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2014/01/the_oyster_bar.php

  Famed for its kitschy nautical-themed decor.  Another casualty of real estate price hikes.

Losner's Deli:  1960

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2012/11/loesers_who_goes_there.php

http://www.backinthebronx.com/story71.php

  One of two remaining Kosher deli's in the Bronx (Liebman's (1953) being the other).

Chez Napoleon:  1960

http://www.cheznapoleon.com/index2.html

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/chez-napoleon/

  Another time-warp French restaurant, where octogenarian Grand-mere' Marguerite is said to literally still do the cooking, which authentically matches that found in a 60's bistro just about anywhere in France. 

  

Pastrami Queen:  1961

http://www.nytimes.com/restaurants/1002207992015/pastrami-queen/details.html

  Started out in Kew Gardens Queens as Pastrami King, where it was a hangout for Queens politicians and courthouse folks; after the courts moved away and took much of the business, it had a sex change operation and moved to the East Side of Manhattan in 1998.  Still serving very good pastrami.

Sylvia's:  1962

http://sylviasrestaurant.com/

Le Périgord:  1964

<a data-ipb="nomediaparse" data-cke-saved-href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia" s_restaurant_of_harlem"="">http://www.leperigord.com/about-le-perigord/

http://www.nytimes.com/restaurants/1002207988938/le-perigord/details.html

  One of the few remaining old school haut-cuisine French warhorses, in mid-town.  Captains in tuxes.  Menu from the era when it opened.  Custom and ritual, of the sort appreciated by the gray-haired clientele.  The place to go when you want to experience quenelles of pike in lobster sauce and floating island, while you still can.

 

The Donut Pub:  1964

http://www.donutpub.com/

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/donut-pub/

  Donuts from a pre-Dunkin era on 14th St.  Famed for its "wall of donuts," including just about every variety you can imagine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Killmeyers Old Bavarian Inn: 1855 (approx.)

http://www.killmeyers.com/about-killmeyers/

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/killmeyers-old-bavaria-inn/

  Traditional German in Staten Island.  Beer garden.  Great portions of Bavarian food, oompah bands, and dozens of beers.

John, thank you for working on this wonderful list (which I'll work into out Oldest Restaurants list).

I've been writing back-and-forth with Killmeyer's, and here is our conversation:

-----
 

Me: Hi! This is Don Rockwell, owner of donrockwell.com, and I curate a list of "Oldest Restaurant In New York City." I'm confused about how long you've been serving food/beverage for ... your FB page says 1907, but apparently you bought a mahogany bar in 1890, and Killmeyer bought the place in 1855. Do you know the answer, or could you help me take an educated guess? Thank you! Don Rockwell, www.donrockwell.com, www.dcdining.com ... the list is here, btw. http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?/topic/22586-oldest-restaurants-in-the-new-york-city-area/

Them: Thank you. I just saw this note. Sorry for any delay. The answer to your question is this: Killmeyer's was founded in 1859 by Nicolas Killmeyer. It was a saloon, barber shop, etc., which catered to the needs of the workers when this was a factory town known as Kreischerville. The next generation, sons Albert and Theodore, expanded the business in the late 1880's. They built the extension to the building that houses the bar and the dining room (and the upstairs hotel space). The tin ceiling and walls are all authentic from that period. In 1890 they commissioned the Mahogany bar. The website is incorrect. Where 1907 comes from is probably from an old 1907 postcard image of the site on display in our side room. It obviously needs to be changed. Thank you. Ken

Me: Ken, thank you! Do you know what year they began serving food or beverages, one or the other?

Them: 1996, the bar opened after renovations. 1997 the kitchen opened.

Me: thank you!

-----

So, as remarkable as it might sound Killmeyer's, while historic, wouldn't make out list since it didn't start serving food or drink until 1996.

Now, Ken may indeed be wrong, in which case I hope someone will tell me, but he sounds like he knows what he's doing, and was very helpful!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, thank you for working on this wonderful list (which I'll work into out Oldest Restaurants list).

I've been writing back-and-forth with Killmeyer's, and here is our conversation:

-----
 

Me: Hi! This is Don Rockwell, owner of donrockwell.com, and I curate a list of "Oldest Restaurant In New York City." I'm confused about how long you've been serving food/beverage for ... your FB page says 1907, but apparently you bought a mahogany bar in 1890, and Killmeyer bought the place in 1855. Do you know the answer, or could you help me take an educated guess? Thank you! Don Rockwell, www.donrockwell.com, www.dcdining.com ... the list is here, btw. http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?/topic/22586-oldest-restaurants-in-the-new-york-city-area/

Them: Thank you. I just saw this note. Sorry for any delay. The answer to your question is this: Killmeyer's was founded in 1859 by Nicolas Killmeyer. It was a saloon, barber shop, etc., which catered to the needs of the workers when this was a factory town known as Kreischerville. The next generation, sons Albert and Theodore, expanded the business in the late 1880's. They built the extension to the building that houses the bar and the dining room (and the upstairs hotel space). The tin ceiling and walls are all authentic from that period. In 1890 they commissioned the Mahogany bar. The website is incorrect. Where 1907 comes from is probably from an old 1907 postcard image of the site on display in our side room. It obviously needs to be changed. Thank you. Ken

Me: Ken, thank you! Do you know what year they began serving food or beverages, one or the other?

Them: 1996, the bar opened after renovations. 1997 the kitchen opened.

Me: thank you!

-----

So, as remarkable as it might sound Killmeyer's, while historic, wouldn't make out list since it didn't start serving food or drink until 1996.

Now, Ken may indeed be wrong, in which case I hope someone will tell me, but he sounds like he knows what he's doing, and was very helpful!

But wait!  They themselves say that the place was among other things a saloon (i.e. a bar) in 1859.  Also, it seems strange that an *extension* to the "bar and dining room" would have been built in 1890 if food and drink were not already being served, or that the mahogany bar was commissioned in 1890 if the place weren't serving drinks at that time; at the very least they surely were serving drinks from that date, which is 120+ years ago.

I suspect the dates they gave you (in the 1990's) probably refer to the beginnings of the current management/ownership and the renovations they did at that time, not the beginnings of the business.  To me, this illustrates the difficulty of getting trustworthy historic information when the institutional memory has been lost and the folks you're talking with don't have real information but only guesses, and even perhaps  misunderstand the question being asked.

Killmeyer's true history is clearly a tough nut to crack, but even based solely on your exchange there's little doubt in my mind the place was there serving food and drink long before 1996.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But wait!  They themselves say that the place was among other things a saloon (i.e. a bar) in 1859.  Also, it seems strange that an *extension* to the "bar and dining room" would have been built in 1890 if food and drink were not already being served, or that the mahogany bar was commissioned in 1890 if the place weren't serving drinks at that time; at the very least they surely were serving drinks from that date, which is 120+ years ago.

I suspect the dates they gave you (in the 1990's) probably refer to the beginnings of the current management/ownership and the renovations they did at that time, not the beginnings of the business.  To me, this illustrates the difficulty of getting trustworthy historic information when the institutional memory has been lost and the folks you're talking with don't have real information but only guesses, and even perhaps  misunderstand the question being asked.

Killmeyer's true history is clearly a tough nut to crack, but even based solely on your exchange there's little doubt in my mind the place was there serving food and drink long before 1996.

John, I heard back from Ken: It does look like they had been serving food/drink in the past - as a roadhouse - and were closed during 1994. The question of origin still remains a mystery.

"No. When I bought the building in late 1994 it had been closed for about a year. The family that owned the building had run it as a honky tonk roadhouse very successfully for years. It did have a small kitchen and served food. When I bought the building the plan was to create a restaurant and upgrade the building."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, I heard back from Ken: It does look like they had been serving food/drink in the past - as a roadhouse - and were closed during 1994. The question of origin still remains a mystery.

Yes it is hard to in down precisely, but no doubt it belongs in the list.  Here is a link to a Staten Island Advance story from last Fall that seems to have the history laid out fairly well.  About 2/3's of the way down it refers to the place having been "in service" for more than 150 years.

Meanwhile, it looks like Tavern on the Green is set to come back to life -- click

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Occasionally I spot an article that mentions a place that qualifies be added to this list.  Here is one that just came up:  Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Open for over 62 years, which would put it around 1953.  According to the photos on their website they appear to specialize in fairly elaborate donut types.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Occasionally I spot an article that mentions a place that qualifies be added to this list.  Here is one that just came up:  Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Open for over 62 years, which would put it around 1953.  According to the photos on their website they appear to specialize in fairly elaborate donut types.  

Thank you, sir - when the owners bought it, the previous owner had it "for over 40 years," so there appears to be uncertainty about the exact date it opened (I suspect this is in some Hall Of Records somewhere, but that nobody will take the time to locate the exact information). So, mainly because of the caption on this Facebook post, I'll use 1953 until that's shown to be incorrect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I failed to notice until recently that one of the oldest in NY, Sevilla from 1941 (it is noted in my long post #31 from March 10, 2014) was recently honored by being included in the 2015 James Beard American Classics list.  Thought it was worth a mention.  Others on our list so honored by JBF in past years include Barney Greengrass, Peter Luger, Mario's, and Totonno's Pizzeria.

There is another JBAC winner in NY that closed in 2012, Prime Burger, which was established in 1938.  It should be added to our list in that it was still in operation when DR started in 2005 (as per the qualification criteria in post #1). As of this moment its zombie web site is still up, here.  The owners have opened a new place in Hastings-on-Hudson but it's unclear to me whether that qualifies as an extension.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Killmeyers Old Bavarian Inn: 1855 (approx.)

Landmark Tavern:  1868

Brooklyn Inn:  1875 (approx.)

Sunny's Bar:  1890

Old Town Bar:  1892

Ferrara Bakery and Cafe:  1892

Veniero's Paticceria and Caffe:  1894

Lexington Candy Shop:  1925

Sardi's:  1927

Forlini's:  1956

Gem Spa:  1957 (but direct roots back to the 1920's)

Tony's di Napoli:  1959

Famous Oyster Bar:  1959  (Closed Jan 26, 2014)

Losner's Deli:  1960

Chez Napoleon:  1960

Pastrami Queen:  1961

Sylvia's:  1962

Le Perigord:  1964

The Donut Pub:  1964

John, how confident are you in these dates? It's been almost two years, and I've forgotten where I was - do I need to fact-check them? (It's certainly no trouble to click on each website and check, and it's incredibly helpful that you included them.) You'll be able to check my progress by seeing that I've hyperlinked the names with the websites as I've included them.

If anyone else spots articles such as these, please link to them here - I'm sure this has all been done before, in various forms; now, it's just a matter of compiling the compilations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, how confident are you in these dates? It's been almost two years, and I've forgotten where I was - do I need to fact-check them? (It's certainly no trouble to click on each website and check, and it's incredibly helpful that you included them.) You'll be able to check my progress by seeing that I've hyperlinked the names with the websites as I've included them.

If anyone else spots articles such as these, please link to them here - I'm sure this has all been done before, in various forms; now, it's just a matter of compiling the compilations.

Fairly confident in most cases.  Sometimes it was difficult to find mention of a specific date or there were different dates in different sources, and in some cases I found a date in a source not linked here -- I didn't link everything I found.  Unless one has serious funding it isn't always possible to pin these things down with precision; precise historical records of restaurant openings and closings going back dozens or hundreds of years are not easily available, and one must rely on what one can find on the net.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Libretti's - Established 1950 - Orange, New Jersey.  I have not been here in a long time.  It was the kind of place where you park your car in the empty lot across the street and nod at the gentleman sitting in his car as you make your way to the restaurant.  On your way back to your car after your meal you go and see that gentleman and hand him some cash and thank him for watching your vehicle while you ate.  It was that kind of neighborhood.  I like places like that.  Click on that rotate view control on the lower right of the Google maps street view page and give it a 360 to soak in the ambience of the place.  It's New Jersey like you read about.

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/31/2018 at 5:04 AM, dcs said:

McGovern's Tavern, Newark, New Jersey since 1936.

1 hour ago, dcs said:

Libretti's - Established 1950 - Orange, New Jersey.  I have not been here in a long time.  It was the kind of place where you park your car in the empty lot across the street and nod at the gentleman sitting in his car as you make your way to the restaurant.  On your way back to your car after your meal you go and see that gentleman and hand him some cash and thank him for watching your vehicle while you ate.  It was that kind of neighborhood.  I like places like that.  Click on that rotate view control on the lower right of the Google maps street view page and give it a 360 to soak in the ambience of the place.  It's New Jersey like you read about.

Man, you are on a streak.  I grew up in Essex County but didn't know of either place.  Here is another old timer:   Hobby's Deli in Newark  same family/ pretty much same operation since 1962.   It sits between the downtown and the Universities in Newark, pretty near the new arena.

I've eaten there off and on, but only learned fairly recently that the family that owns Hobby's are cousins of old friends with whom I grew up.  Eat at Hobby's!!!   Support my old friend's extended family.

Actually a qualified very good traditional deli.  Eat at Hobby's and wobble over to McGovern's to wash it down with some beer. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, dcs said:

Barbetta - Since 1906.  The Elegant Relic of Restaurant Row, by Julie Besonen, Feb. 2, 2018, on nytimes.com.

Thanks for the story.  The reference to a visit by Mick Jagger and other Rolling Stones was fun reading.    

So interesting.  I've been dining on W. 46th street and nearby for decades.  I simply knew nothing of Barbetta.  During those decades I've been a visitor to NY.  Most of those 46th street dining trips were associated with a visit to a show.  In fact for about the last 20 years during those visits I've probably only been to one restaurant and am ignorant about all others in the neighborhood.  Boring I guess, but I continue to enjoy the same place. 

Maybe time for a change...:rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Thanks for the story.  The reference to a visit by Mick Jagger and other Rolling Stones was fun reading.    

So interesting.  I've been dining on W. 46th street and nearby for decades.  I simply knew nothing of Barbetta.  During those decades I've been a visitor to NY.  Most of those 46th street dining trips were associated with a visit to a show.  In fact for about the last 20 years during those visits I've probably only been to one restaurant and am ignorant about all others in the neighborhood.  Boring I guess, but I continue to enjoy the same place. 

Maybe time for a change...:rolleyes:

My parents were quite fond of Orso across the street and we would go there quite often and then one day they wandered into Barbetta and we started going there instead.  There are probably better restaurants you could go to than the ones on this block, but that said, there is nothing wrong with the restaurants on this block.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/1/2018 at 8:45 PM, DaveO said:

Man, you are on a streak.  I grew up in Essex County but didn't know of either place.  Here is another old timer:   Hobby's Deli in Newark  same family/ pretty much same operation since 1962.   

Thinking of charcuterie and salami: here is something Hobby’s did about a decade ago in reviving a tradition from WWII.  Once called “send a salami to the army” in modern lingo without rhyme it might be called "charcuterie for the troops."

Oct 31, 2009 - "Salami Care Package Destined for US Troops in Iraq" on voanews.com

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...