P. J. Clarke's
|Food type||Hamburgers, Pub Food|
|Street address||915 Third Avenue (northeast corner of East 55th Street); Manhattan|
|City||New York City|
The bar was once owned by a Patrick J. Clarke, an Irish emigrant who was hired in the early 1900s by a Mr. Duneen who ran the saloon. After about ten years working for him Clarke bought the bar and changed the name.
The building is a holdout and is surrounded by 919 Third Avenue, a 47-story skyscraper. Clarke's former owners, the Lavezzo brothers, signed a deal in which the building housing the saloon was sold for $1.5 million and a 99-year lease was signed with Tishman Realty and Construction. However, due to financial reverses the Lavezzos were forced to sell their interest to a consortium, which includes George Steinbrenner, Timothy Hutton, and others. Prior to his arrest in 2008, Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, whose offices were located near to the bar, was also an investor.
The building was originally a four-story structure. It lost the top two floors when the skyscraper went up in the late 1960s. On the second floor there is now a separate upstairs bar/restaurant called Sidecar, which offers a more formal dining experience.
The bar has catered to a number of notables over the years:
- Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman announced their impending nuptials to an astonished crowd. (The marriage lasted less than two months.)
- Dick Clark, after ringing in the New Year with America, made P.J. Clarke's his traditional post-broadcast destination, where his first meal of the New Year was always a hamburger and a beer.
- Nat King Cole proclaimed in the late 1950s that his P.J. Clarke's bacon cheeseburger was "the Cadillac of burgers!"
- Johnny Depp gifted Keith Richards with a guitar after dinner with their wives at P.J. Clarke's upstairs dining room. Richards treated customers to an impromptu rendition of "Brown Sugar".
- Richard Harris, when asked about his favorite food, replied:
- I adore the hamburgers at P.J. Clarke's. In my drinking days, it was my first stop from the airport. A fellow named Vinny used to be the bartender there, and when I told him I wanted the usual, he lined up six double vodkas. I told an interviewer that once, and he said, "That's a lot of bull, that's one of your exaggerated stories!" I said, "Call a taxi." We walked into P. J. Clarke's, I said, "Vinny, my usual." And he lined up six double vodkas.
- Buddy Holly proposed to his fiancee, Maria Elena Santiago, at P.J. Clarke's on June 20, 1958. It was their first date. In honor of that, on April 29, 2011, Maria Elena Holly unveiled the never before seen "True Love Ways" photo of their wedding kiss, now displayed at P.J. Clarke's' above Table 53.
- Ted Kennedy made P.J. Clarke's a regular stop and consoled himself there the day after his loss to Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries.
- Jake LaMotta is a P.J.'s regular and attended Esquire's 70th Anniversary party at P.J. Clarke's with his wife.
- Liza Minnelli, a regular at the Third Avenue location, still holds a bar account and is known for her devotion to P.J.'s burger.
- Jackie Kennedy Onassis would bring John, Jr. and Caroline in during the early 1970s for lunch on Saturdays.
- Brooke Shields celebrated her daughter's baptism with a celebratory meal at P.J. Clarke's, just as her father had done with her.
- Frank Sinatra was an extremely generous tipper at P.J. Clarke's, and was considered the "owner" of Table 20. When he cruised New York bars, he would start out at Sardi's, but he would always end up at P.J. Clarke's.
In popular culture
- P.J. Clarke's was used to represent Nat's Bar in the Ray Milland movie The Lost Weekend (1945), directed by Billy Wilder. Charles R. Jackson, author of the novel on which that movie was based, was a regular at P. J. Clarke's.
- Popeye Doyle asks for a P.J. Clarke's hamburger whilst undergoing cold turkey in the film French Connection II (1975).
- The final scene of Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), Alvy and Annie's saying goodbye for the final time, was shot from the newer Lincoln Square location (SE corner of W. 63rd Street and Columbus Avenue), facing north from within the inside of the dining establishment that was at that location in the 1970s (O'Neill's).
- In the movie Coyote Ugly (2000), the P.J. Clarke's team played against the Coyote Ugly bartenders.
- Kenny Chesney – the well known country music artist released a song on his album Welcome to the Fishbowl (2012), titled "To Get to You (55th and 3rd)," wherein he sings about "New York City, 55th and Third...." and love that was found "at a corner booth." Although P.J. Clarke's is not explicitly mentioned, it takes little to connect the dots on where this love song is referring.
- Dave Matthews Band wrote a song called "Stolen Away On 55th & 3rd", which was reportedly about a girl Matthews met years ago at P.J. Clarke's.
- Johnny Mercer penned "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" on a napkin while sitting at the bar at P.J. Clarke's. (The bartender at that time was named Tommy Joyce, and Mercer reportedly apologized to Joyce, saying "I couldn't get your name to rhyme".)
- In the AMC Television series Mad Men, the employees of the Sterling Cooper advertising agency frequent P.J. Clarke's.
( In Neil Simon's play Barefoot in the Park (1963), during the Act II, Scene 2 fight between Paul and Corie, Paul says, "Do you know . . . Do you know, in P.J. Clarke's last New Year's Eve, I punched an old woman? . . . Don't tell me about drunks."
- P.J. Clarke's at Lincoln Square (44 W. 63rd Street) on the Upper West Side opened in 2007 across Columbus Avenue from Lincoln Center.
- P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson (250 Vesey Street at Four World Financial Center) opened in 2006 near Ground Zero.
As well, there are two restaurants of the same name, licensed from the original, in Chicago:
- P.J. Clarke's Gold Coast (1204 N. State Parkway, Chicago, IL 60610) opened in 1986 and serves their MinnieBurger http://www.pjclarkeschicago.com
- P.J. Clarke's Streeterville (302 E. Illinois Street, Chicago, IL 60611) opened in 2002 and serves their MinnieBurger http://www.pjclarkeschicago.com
In early October 2010 P.J. Clarke's opened just two blocks North of the White House:
- P.J. Clarke's Washington DC (1600 K Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20006)
- P.J. Clarke's Las Vegas (3500 Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109)
Its first location outside the U.S. opened on November 7, 2008, in São Paulo, Brazil. It's a partnership with local entrepreneur Maria Rita Pikielny Marracini. There are currently two P.J. Clarke's in Brazil.
- Dunlap, David W. "New Team, Old Look for Saloon; P. J. Clarke's Changes Owners, Who Plan to Retain Atmosphere", The New York Times, February 15, 2002. Accessed August 4, 2008.
- "P.J. Clarke's". Burger Weekly (Burger Weekly). June 12, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- True Love Ways Unveiled
- "GOOD EATING; Oscar Ate Here", The New York Times, March 23, 2003. Accessed August 4, 2008.
- Schimidt, Fernanda "Tradicional hamburgueria americana, P.J. Clarke's inaugura primeira filial fora de NY em SP", UOL, November 6, 2008. Accessed November 6, 2008.