Massive restaurants offering pig-out portions of food are a Times Square tradition going back to 1900.
Crowds were looking to be fed and entertained. So a dining establishment called Rector’s, at Broadway and 44th Street, ushered in the “lobster palace” craze.
It wasn’t just about the sudden popularity of fresh lobster. Rector’s (left), as well as Murray’s Roman Gardens (below), Cafe Martin, and others made eating vast quantities of high society–sounding foods trendy among the middle class and tourists.
“Rector’s deliberately imitated the decor and menus of Fifth Avenue hotels and society places like Sherry’s and Delmonico’s, but it abandoned their exclusive atmosphere in favor of ostentation and Broadway theatricality,” writes Darcy Tell in Times Square Spectacular.
Of course, real members of New York society wouldn’t be caught dead in a lobster palace. The craze died down once cabaret became a big fad in the teens.