P. J. Clarke's
|Food type||Hamburgers, Pub Food|
|Street address||915 Third Avenue (NE corner of East 55th Street)|
P. J. Clarke's is a saloon, established 1884. It occupies a building located at 915 Third Avenue on the northeast corner of East 55th Street in Manhattan. It has a second location at 44 West 63rd Street on the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue.
The bar was once owned by a Patrick J. Clarke, an Irish immigrant 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:
- Nat King Cole proclaimed in the late 1950s that his P.J. Clarke's bacon cheeseburger was "the Cadillac of burgers!"
- Buddy Holly proposed to his fiancée, 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.
- Elaine Stritch claimed she earned her spot on the short-lived CBS legal series The Trials of O'Brien by bargaining with series star Peter Falk at the actor's regular table, and in commentary for the D. A. Pennebaker film documenting her struggles recording the Original Cast Album for Company, said she spent the evening drinking at P.J. Clarke's after an unsuccessful studio session.
- Johnny Mercer was said to have penned "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)"—one of the great torch laments of all times—on a napkin while sitting at the bar at P. J. Clarke's when Tommy Joyce was the bartender. The next day Mercer called Joyce to apologize for the line "So, set 'em up, Joe," explaining "I couldn't get your name to rhyme."
In popular culture
- Nat's Bar was based on P.J. Clarke's 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, played by Gene Hackman in the movie French Connection II (1975), asks the French police to get him a "nice, juicy P.J. Clarke's hamburger" while he is going through heroin withdrawal.
- Side Street (1950). Interior and exterior scenes shown.
- In the AMC Television series Mad Men, the employees of the Sterling Cooper advertising agency frequent P.J. Clarke's.
- P.J. Clarke's - New York | West 60s Restaurant Menus and Reviews
- 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.
- Schimidt, Fernanda "Tradicional hamburgueria americana, P.J. Clarke's inaugura primeira filial fora de NY em SP" Archived November 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, UOL, November 6, 2008. Accessed November 6, 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.
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