Prominent New Yorkers Say Goodbye To Elaine's For decades, Elaine's attracted a who's who of writers, actors, sports stars and politicians. It was a place to see and be seen. Even when it stopped being hip, many kept coming back because of the proprietor Elaine Kaufman. She died nearly six months ago and business dropped off.
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Prominent New Yorkers Say Goodbye To Elaine's

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Prominent New Yorkers Say Goodbye To Elaine's

Prominent New Yorkers Say Goodbye To Elaine's

Prominent New Yorkers Say Goodbye To Elaine's

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/136706596/136706652" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

For decades, Elaine's attracted a who's who of writers, actors, sports stars and politicians. It was a place to see and be seen. Even when it stopped being hip, many kept coming back because of the proprietor Elaine Kaufman. She died nearly six months ago and business dropped off.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Our last word in business today is actually a conversation one that went on for nearly a half a century between a beloved New York restaurant and its patrons.

Last night, many prominent New Yorkers turned out to say farewell to Elaine's, a gathering spot known more for its social scene than it's scaloppini.

From member station WNYC, Kathleen Horan has this story.

(Soundbite of restaurant chatter)

KATHLEEN HORAN: For decades, Elaine's attracted a who's who of writers, actors, sports stars and politicians, as well as neighborhood regulars. For much of that time, it was a place to see and be seen. Even when it stopped being quite as hip, many kept coming back because the proprietor herself, Elaine Kaufman. Known for her one-liners and lack of pretension, she was always holding court. Kaufman died nearly 6 months ago and business dropped off.

Longtime regular, writer Gay Talese said he turned up to pay his respects.

Mr. GAY TALESE (Writer): Elaine died sometime ago, as we know, and now the restaurant is going to die and all the rest of us are going to be a little more dead without Elaine. So I think we're here as a kind of celebration and a wake at the same time.

HORAN: Over the course of the evening, as the line outside continued to grow, many boldface names squeezed in to mingle and reminisce - actor Alec Baldwin, former police commissioner Bill Bratton and writer and sexpert Dr. Ruth Westheimer. She said the place won't easily be forgotten because it offered a sense of real connection.

Dr. RUTH WESTHEIMER (Sex Therapist): For a city like New York, where there are so many lonely people, this was like a living room, like a salon. You could come here and you knew that you would find someone to talk to. The celebrities are one thing, but it's mainly the conversation.

HORAN: The buildings that house the restaurant that's been immortalized in a Woody Allen film, a Billy Joel song and the minds of countless New Yorkers have been put up for sale.

For NPR News in New York, I'm Kathleen Horan.

(Soundbite of song, "Rhapsody in Blue")

MONTAGNE: And that's the business news. For NPR News, this is MORNING EDITION.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

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