Posts Tagged ‘Men-only bars’

Where “discriminating” New Yorkers used to dine

January 18, 2013

Would today’s New York foodies approve of the Skipper restaurants, a mid-century mini-chain of dining establishments centered in midtown?

Well, the food is “well-cooked” and “balanced” (nutritious and no trans fats?), and they do their own baking, which might count as local fare.

Theskipperrestaurants

The menu items probably wouldn’t go over well. A review in the 1949 restaurant guide Knife and Fork in New York notes the “deviled crab, southern fried chicken,” and “roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.”

Theskipperpostcardback

And the decor wouldn’t attract a trendy crowd. It’s described in the book as “tearoomy” in the “colonial mood, with colorful wallpapers.” The Skipper sounds like an inexpensive place to grab a bite if you’re hungry and not especially picky.

Interestingly, the chain has a “Men’s Grill” on 44th Street. I know the city had male-only bars well into the 1960s (McSorley’s wasn’t open to women until 1970!). But single-sex public restaurants in the 1940s?

Greenwich Village’s legendary Grapevine Tavern

September 30, 2009

Back in the early to mid-19th century, when the Village really was a country village north of the main city, this quaint clapboard house became a tavern known as the Old Grapevine. 

Located on the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 11th Street, it’s probably the first legendary Village bar. The Old Grapevine attracted artists, businessmen, Union officers, Southern spies, and politicians, who dropped by after visiting Jefferson Market Courthouse two blocks south.

Grapevinetavern

It was such a gathering spot that the phrase “I heard it through the grapevine” originated there. (Yep, a grapevine used to cover the 11th Street side of the tavern.)

Its closing in 1915 merited the kind of nostalgic media coverage given to CBGB or the Cedar Tavern when they shut their doors:

Grapevinenewyorktimes

“It was not only a place to warm the inner man with the fermented juice of the grape, malted beers, and fine musty ale, but a place where good fellows met, as in the more palatial clubs today, to match their wits, tell the latest story, and discuss in a friendly way the political destinies of the nation,” wrote The New York Times

Speaking of warming the inner man, one ex-owner was proud that he didn’t serve women.

“Never in my career have a sold a drink to a woman,” the Times quoted him. “No women were allowed in the place. It was no hang-out for roisterers. . . . From the day I went there in 1870 [it] was a gentleman’s cafe.”


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