Asked if she ever goes gaga over the famous people who come to her restaurant known for it’s famous clientele that includes prolific writers, filmmakers, actors and other consummate New Yorkers, Elaine Kaufman, owner of the famous Elaine’s on New York's Upper Eastside thinks for a moment, looks at Diane Becker, the restaurant’s superb, no nonsense manager and responds, “Sidney Poitier was awesome.
“And remember Harry Belafonte?” Diane reminds her. “Yeah, but,” adds Elaine, “When Fellini and his wife came in with Marcello Mastroianni…” her voice trails off as if she’s reliving that amazing moment.
“We have some funny people coming here, most of them are fine and then there are those whose demands aren’t consistent with manners,” Elaine points out.
Here are some of Elaine’s dos and don’ts when you're on her turf.
DON’T WALK UP TO A TABLE AND GUSH AS SOMEONE’S ABOUT TO TAKE A BITE, NO MATTER HOW FABULOUS THEY ARE OR HOW DRUNK YOU ARE
“They’re about to eat and someone actually is coming up to them to tap them to get their attention, " said Elaine shaking her head in disbelief.
DON’T EVEN TRY DROPPING ELAINE’S NAME IN YOUR QUEST FOR WHAT YOU THINK IS A BETTER TABLE
“You get what you get. Any table you’re sitting at should be a good table and if you’re that insecure, no table is going to be right.” Diane adds, "Saying you know Elaine won't do anything for you."
DON’T COME IN WITH YOUR OWN BOTTLE OF WINE
“We tell them that we sell wine and food.”
DON’T SEND BACK A BOTTLE AND ASK FOR ANOTHER OF THE SAME
“We won’t do it. We tell them they won’t be happy, try something else.”
DON’T TAKE YOUR DRINK TO THE BATHROOM
Asked why this happens, Elaine responded, “Because they’re stupid.”
DON’T EVER PUT YOUR FEET ON THE CHAIR
“We’ll yell, “Take your feet off the chair.”
DO DRESS PROPERLY, NO SHORTS PLEASE
“There’s not much to do about it once they get in."
DO BE KIND TO THE STAFF
“One guy, a writer, used to be very rude. He changed his ways when he married, his wife would threaten to walk out.”
DO FEEL FREE TO ASK IF YOU CAN ORDER OFF THE MENU
“Doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.”
THINGS ELAINE CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT
Doggie bags - “They’re a given, it’s okay but I can’t believe that people would take such a small amount of food home and actually eat it.”
Sharing meals – “I don’t like it. It’s not like they can’t afford it.”
Yvette and I have been to Elaine’s a couple of times. It is impressive and as much as we covet a table along the wall, we know wherever we are, like Elaine said, “It’s a good table.”
*Elaine and Diane sent me away after the interview with a container of soup not surprisingly for a friend who's a filmmaker and not feeling well. "He's family," Diane said. "We take care of family."