Remembering Elaine Kaufman

Contributor
"Wherever we are is the best table, baby."
Elaine's is at 1703 2nd Avenue.
Baby Does NYC/Jak Burke
Elaine's is at 1703 2nd Avenue.

News of Elaine Kaufman's death is making the rounds. Celebrity photos are up, and some are discussing the food quality (check out the Elaine's menu). Fact is, even if you've never sat with Elaine but have been to the restaurant, it's likely you have a story you remember. It's just that kind of place. One piece not to be missed is an appreciation written by Times editor, Pete Khoury, who is the reason why a much younger version of this writer had the fun experience of sitting with this New York icon on several occasions about a decade ago.

For the definitive take there's The New York Times obit for Elaine by Enid Nemy, and one in the New York Post. Below are notable quotes from Elaine, and a few facts from A. E. Hotchner's Everyone Comes to Elaine's.

 

According to Hotchner

Woody Allen said that Rod Steiger once kissed him on the lips at Elaine's.

The night the Rangers finally won the Stanley Cup, the entire hockey team came in at 3 A.M.and drank an incredible amount of beer out of it at Elaine's.

It was also the place that Reggie Jackson went the night after he hit his famed three home runs in the World Series.

Frank Sinatra once supposedly refused to shake Mario Puzo's hand at Elaine's.

 

Elaine Quotes

“Wherever we are is the best table, baby.” — Vanity Fair

“If hookers were banned from New York restaurants, half of them would close overnight!” — Vanity Fair

“Writers have never come to my place to talk about literature,” Elaine explained. “They come to escape writing.”

“What do they talk about?”

“Money and girls, mostly.” — Vanity Fair

"I live at the restaurant, I entertain at the restaurant. I come [home] just for myself. This is where I unwind, where I read and watch my favorite Western movies on TV." — New York Post

On Willie Nelson: “He kissed all the women at the bar.” — The New York Times

“I’ve lived just about the most perfect life,” Ms. Kaufman said in 1998. “I’ve had the best time. If I wanted to do something, I did it. Designers designed my clothes and did my apartment. I had house seats for the theater. I was invited to screenings and book parties. I’ve had fun. What else can you ask in life?” — The New York Times

 

Things You May Not Know

Elaine made appearances in at least seven TV shows, documentaries and movies.

Jay McInerney (whose remembrance can be read here) became 50% less unctuous at Elaine's.

In 2002, when Mayor Bloomberg pushed to ban smoking in New York City's restaurants Elaine penned a piece in The Times, "It's New York. It's Elaine's. Let Our Patrons Light Up."

Elaine appeared on Charlie Rose as part of a remembrance of George Plimpton.

From the Archives: Elaine Kaufman Versus Celebrity Photog Ron Galella