we've been serving up the same things: fresh food, frosty drinks and good, old-fashioned conversation.
We could talk for hours about our history, our star-studded cast of diners, blah blah blah. But, for now, that's beside the point. Grab yourself a stool at the bar and order a cold one.
A red brick building on 55th Street and Third Avenue in what is now Midtown Manhattan goes up.
A certain Mr. Jennings converts the building into a saloon, serving mostly Irish immigrant laborers. Yes, P.J. Clarke’s has Guinness on tap.
Patrick "Paddy" J. Clarke — who had arrived from Ireland and began bartending for the second owner, Mr. Duneen, a decade earlier — buys the joint and chooses a natural moniker for it.
Four Clarke sons are born in the tenement above the bar.
The Prohibition era brought uncertainty for Clarke and his family, but he decided to fight against it in his own way: making bathtub gin and bootlegging Scotch from Canada, he served his most loyal customers on the sly.
Post-Prohibition, the place gained quite a reputation. Frank Sinatra regularly closed the place down at Table #20 and Johnny Mercer wrote “One for My Baby” on a bar napkin. The man himself, P.J. Clarke, passed away in 1948 and the restaurant was sold to the Clarke’s neighbors, the Lavezzos.
The Lost Weekend is released and wins Best Picture as well as six other Academy Awards. Charles Jackson, a Clarke's regular, wrote the novel the film was based on and, when the Third Avenue El train proved to be too loud for some scenes, an interior based on P.J. Clarke's was constructed in Hollywood for shooting. Various actors from the Paramount lot were known to stop by for a cocktail.
Buddy Holly proposes in the restaurant (to a woman who he had known for all of five hours) and, in the same year, Nat King Cole proclaims that P.J.’s bacon cheeseburger is “The Cadillac of burgers!” The name, as they say, has stuck.
The Lavezzos refuse to sell 915 Third Avenue to evil, no-good developers razing the neighborhood’s buildings left and right. The New York Times described it as “David who prevailed over Goliath.”
Since 1884, the beer at P.J. Clarke's was kept cold by 200 pound blocks of ice. The tradition continued all the way into the Reagan administration when the Lavezzos moved to modernized refrigeration techniques.
Ted Kennedy eats lunch as he swallows a loss of the Democratic presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter. In the previous decade, his sister-in-law, Jackie, would bring John Jr. and Caroline in for Saturday burgers. Mother's favorite meal was a hamburger and spinach salad. (Caroline was actually kicked out of the bar in 1975 by night manager Jack Sterling for drinking booze at the tender age of 17).
Actor Richard Harris becomes a teetotler. When he was drinking, he would regularly head to PJ Clarke's straight from the airport where his regular order was placed before him: six double vodkas.
New owners Philip Scotti and Arnold Penner close P.J. Clarke’s for a year of renovations. See if you can spot any major overhauls.
P.J. Clarke’s on the Hudson opens, ushering in a new era of food, drinks, and stuffed dog mascot lore from D.C. to Brazil. See if you can spot any major change in the vibe.