I can attest to the immediate success of Carmine's on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early nineties as my family and friends stood on the lines to get in on a number of occasions. Owner Artie Cutler's concept of serving large, family-style portions to guests, in a warm, friendly atmosphere connected with diners immediately. It did not take Mr. Cutler long to realize that he had a success on his hands and that it was time for expansion. In 1992, the theater district had another hit in Times Square, in the form of a grand, traditional Italian restaurant.
Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindberg are among the noteworthy clients that E. B. Meyorwitz & Dell has been crafting “made-to-measure” frames for since 1875. Today, be it in their New York, London or Paris shops, one can still be fitted for a pair of the same classy, high quality spectacles.
Located in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Times Square lies a hotel that is the perfect blend of old world glamour and modern luxury. A landmark building designed by Stanford White and finished in the early 1900s, it was originally the home of the Lambs Club, an organization of actors, reminiscent of the previous London location. Opening its doors as The Chatwal New York in 2010, architect Thierry Despont oversaw the entire redesign of the hotel. He was incredibly meticulous about maintaining as much of its past as possible while also introducing it to the sophisticated clientele of the twenty-first century. His work has included the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, The Carlyle, Claridges in London and a host of others. After admiring the attractive lobby and bar, where we sampled two of their signature drinks - the Lamb's Club Cup (cucumber, lime, fresh raspberries, ginger syrup, white vermouth, St. Germain, gin, and topped off with club soda), and the Goldrush (honey syrup, lemon juice and bourbon), we were escorted on a small tour of the guest rooms upstairs. It was evident in the Producer's suite with its private terrace and view of Times Square, that they spared no expense in each appointment of the room. The cedar-lined closets as well as the drawer and door handles were wrapped in leather. We also took note of the old movie playing in the elevators and the hallways lined with classic movie posters. Richly decadent, sleekly fashionable, and consciously sexy, the Chatwal is a quintessential midtown hotel that took into consideration every detail necessary for an extravagant stay.
For Sammy, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, walking into the Overlook, and "being hit by the smell of burgers and beer, was a feast for the nose and an appropriate cologne for any watering hole worth its salt. " For me, I was initially intrigued by the back walls filled with what were clearly drawings by an accomplished cartoonist. In chatting with the owner, we learned of its storied past. Inspired by James Thurber who, in the 1940s and 50s, use to draw on the walls of a nearby bar in an effort to reduce his drinking tabs, the Daily News cartoonist, Bill Gallo continued this tradition and made his mark, decades ago, on the walls of what was then called Costello's. Years later, he was asked back to add more of his illustrations on the other side. Today, both walls are filled with entertainment, particularly to those of us who remember many of the characters being depicted. A bar's bar, ultimately named the Overlook offers ales galore and TVs aplenty, enough to serve as host of New York's Chicago Bears fan club. A rooftop deck offers a place to unwind during the warmer months. The Overlook is helped by the steady flow of customers from the hotel on one side and apartment building on the other.
Perhaps not as old an institution as some of the clubs on 44th, but this cafe has certainly had a long run, and I have enjoyed being one of their patrons for several of these decades. Occupying space on 44th since 1977, Un Deux Trois has hosted generations of artists and theater district figures. "We were very hot in the '80s, " explained manager Pierre, name dropping celebrities from Andy Warhol to Meryl Streep and Al Pacino. And Pierre went on to say that today, long-time regulars who grew up eating in the restaurant are now bringing in their own children. Breakfast is served from opening at seven thirty until midnight every day of the year. The food is traditional French brasserie style, with a prix fixe menu available for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Steak tartare continues to be a popular choice, as does the quiche lorraine, but on my visit while walking 44th, I opted for another typically French favorite, a spinach and cheese stuffed crepe with a simple side salad. The decor remains from a past life as a hotel lobby, with a mosaic-tiled floor, stained glass windows and Corinthian columns amid all the festivities. Now appearing in various travel guides to Manhattan, it plays host to tourists, theater-goers and locals alike.
Founded in 1949 and named for Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, Birdland has legitimate claim to its moniker as "The Jazz Corner of the World. " During its heyday in its original location on Broadway near 52nd Street, it became a popular destination during a time of magnificent jazz musicians, regularly playing host not only to its namesake, but also to Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and, seemingly, the rest of the jazz hall of fame. Celebrities flocked to see them play: Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Marilyn Monroe among the many admirers. As musical trends shifted and rock n' roll rose to prominence in the 60's, the club was forced into bankruptcy. After re-opening uptown in 1986, the club, ultimately, moved back downtown to its current space, where it has enjoyed tremendous success for almost twenty years. Over the years, Birdland was able to showcase thousands of emerging and established artists, often those from the initial space revisiting the club that had helped make them who they were. Contemporary jazz artists continue to come play the venue, hailed as a haven for connoisseurs, and people from around the world flock to Birdland for a taste of the rich history of jazz.
Once upon a time, partners Nicki and Lisa were just a couple of ladies who loved to travel. As their roster of overseas adventures grew, they noticed that each time they visited the far-flung corners of the earth they returned with a host of goodies that had caught their collective eye. An idea was born, and they founded Domus as a home-goods focused store with a global inventory. The attitude here, according to Nicki, is that "if we like something, and we think other people might like it, we do it. " That makes for a flexible and open approach, which over the years has led to spillover past the home-goods genre into arts and crafts, toys and knick-knacks of all sorts.
One might think that they are walking into an upscale souvenir shop when first entering the Theatre Circle, as it is filled with I Love NY tee shirts, mugs, and other trinkets. Upon closer examination, however, there is a treasure trove of memorabilia waiting for the theater enthusiast. Back in 1978, the owners of this Broadway institution began peddling theater-related merchandise outside the nearby theaters on 44th. The business grew, and they were able to move into a space at One Shubert Alley, and later opened up this second shop in the 1990s. We stopped in and spoke with Craig, a self-proclaimed "great guy and general manager, " and were immediately struck by his passion for everything theatrical. He quickly ushered us into the back room where he proudly announced that it holds roughly ten thousand scripts of Broadway shows come and gone, as well as playbills, posters, music and so much more.