Russian Tea Room

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Russian Tea Room
Russian Tea Room.jpg
Entry to the Russian Tea Room in 2008
Restaurant information
Established 1927
Food type Russo-Continental
Street address 150 West 57th Street (between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue), between Carnegie Hall Tower and Metropolitan Tower, in Manhattan
City New York City
State New York
Postal code/ZIP 10019

The Russian Tea Room is a Russo-Continental restaurant, located at 150 West 57th Street (between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue), between Carnegie Hall Tower and Metropolitan Tower, in Manhattan in New York City.[1]

History[edit]

The Russian Tea Room was opened in 1927, by former members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, as a gathering place for Russian expatriates, and became famous as a gathering place for those in the entertainment industry. The founder is often considered to be Polish-born Jacob Zysman, but in that year, a corporation directory gives Albertina Rasch as the president and her name appears along with Russian Art Chocolate and Russian Tea Room, in early photographs of the shopfront at 145 W. 57th St. In 1929, the business moved across the street to its present location, which at that time was an Italianate brownstone, built in 1875 by German immigrant John F. Pupke, a tea and coffee merchant, whose son later moved the large clan to Long Island, seeking a more relaxed lifestyle.

By 1933, the Siberian émigré Alexander Maeef was running the Russian Tea Room and was the main personality associated with the restaurant for the next fifteen years.

In 1955, the restaurant was purchased by Sidney Kaye, who, in 1967, left the restaurant to his widow, Faith Stewart-Gordon.

Facade of the Russian Tea Room.

In 1981, Harry B. Macklowe, the developer of the Metropolitan Tower, planned a large office tower that would have included not only his own site at the Metropolitan Tower, but also the restaurant's and the lot on which Carnegie Hall Tower was erected. There was an agreement with Carnegie Hall about their lot, but Stewart-Gordon, who owned the lot dividing the project, refused to sell. Macklowe also offered to buy the air rights only and to give room for her restaurant inside the new tower building, but Stewart-Gordon declined. No matter what she was offered, Stewart-Gordon refused to sell the lot. During the planning of the Carnegie Hall Tower at 152 W. 57th St., on the other side of the Russian Tea Room, again Stewart-Gordon declined to sell its site or its air rights. The result is the narrow twenty-foot gap, separating the Metropolitan and Carnegie Hall towers.

In December 1996, Warner LeRoy, who owned Tavern on the Green, bought the restaurant from Stewart-Gordon for $6.5 million and closed it down, much to the despair of New York high society.[2] After four years and $36 million in renovations, it reopened, but it was never the same; it closed with little notice on Sunday, July 28, 2002, after declaring bankruptcy. LeRoy's health was failing. Also, the local economy did not recover quickly enough to make payments on the substantial loans for the renovations.[2][3]

After Warner LeRoy died in 2001, his estate sold the property for $16 million to the United States Golf Association in December 2002. The Association had planned to reconfigure the property as a dining room and museum, in which to showcase its extensive collection of golf memorabilia, but instead sold the building in 2004 to the RTR Funding Group of Gerald Lieblich.[4][5] The 20-foot-wide building goes all the way from 57th Street (the restaurant's main entrance) to 56th Street. The plans are to replace some of the current building facing 56th Street with a 29-story condominium, which is to be designed by Costas Kondylis. The original restaurant will be kept undisturbed.

The Russian Tea Room reopened on November 1, 2006. The restaurant's interior hasn't been touched and the over-the-top decor is the same as when it closed in 2002.[6][7] However, several restaurant reviews have noted that the food and service leave significant room for improvement.[8][9]

See also[edit]

In culture[edit]

Interior of the Russian Tea Room in November 2009
  • British comedian Rowan Atkinson married Sunetra Sastry there in 1990, having met her there that year on 5 February.
  • Scenes from Sweet Smell of Success, Manhattan, When Harry Met Sally, Big, The Turning Point, Smurfs, Tootsie, and New York Stories were filmed at the restaurant, as well as "The Wrath of Con" episode of Gossip Girl, and the "Dad" episode of Louie.
  • It was a favored dining place of, among other notables, Ayn Rand and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz.
  • It is depicted in a painting by Beryl Cook.
  • In 1982, Madonna worked there, as a coat-check clerk.[10]
  • In 1995 it was shown in The Nanny season 3 episode Pen Pal
  • In the season 2 episode of Will & Grace (Homo for the Holidays) its mentioned when Jack decides to take his mother there.
  • In season three of "Louie" Louie meets his Uncle Excelsior there for lunch.
  • Carrie Bradshaw famously went on a late-night date there with “the Russian,” Aleksandr Petrovsky, portrayed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, in season six of “Sex and the City.”

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Russian Tea Room, New York". Zagat. Archived from the original on 2013-10-15. 
  2. ^ a b Kopp, Carol (November 2, 2006). "Famed Russian Tea Room Reopens". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2014-04-27. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ Collins, Glenn (July 27, 2002). "Russian Tea Room to Close After Tomorrow's Dinner". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2010-05-24. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Golf museum planned for New York". Golf Today. Archived from the original on 2013-04-10. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Tea, teeing off not a perfect match". Chicago Tribune. June 22, 2003. Archived from the original on 2014-04-27. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ Kilian, Cynthia (October 30, 2006). "'Russian' Back, Famed Tea Room Set to Reopen". Archived from the original on 2006-11-14. 
  7. ^ Dobnik, Verena (November 2, 2006). "Russian Tea Room Is Back – for 3rd Time". Fox News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2014-06-08. 
  8. ^ Bruni, Frank (December 20, 2006). "Tastes of Russia, but One Without Borders". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2007-06-23. 
  9. ^ Platt, Adam (January 7, 2007). "The New Russia: The latest incarnation of the Russian Tea Room evokes gilded old New York, but the food and service lack polish". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. 
  10. ^ "Madonna Offered A Party At The New York Landmark Where She Started Out". August 15, 2008. Archived from the original on 2014-04-27. 
  • Stewart-Gordon, Faith (1981). The Russian Tea Room Cookbook. New York: Richard Marek Publishers. ISBN 0-399-90128-0. 
  • Stewart-Gordon, Faith (1993). The Russian Tea Room: A Tasting. New York: Clarkson Potter. ISBN 0-517-58826-9. 
  • Stewart-Gordon, Faith (1999). The Russian Tea Room: A Love Story. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-85981-5. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′54″N 73°58′45.84″W / 40.76500°N 73.9794000°W / 40.76500; -73.9794000