Dining at Grandpa Munster’s on Bleecker Street

If Britney Spears, Robert De Niro, and Jay-Z could try their hands at running a New York City restaurant, then why not Al Lewis, aka Grandpa Munster?

From 1987 to 1993, you could find the tall, affable Lewis—once a basketball star at Thomas Jefferson High School in East New York—in the restaurant he opened on Bleecker and Leroy Streets, Grampa’s Bella Gente Italian.

There he played up the whole Munsters thing, letting diners and passersby on the corner address him as grandpa.

After Grampa’s closed, he didn’t cease being a local celebrity. Lewis hosted a political talk show on WBAI in the 1990s. He even ran for governor in 1998 on the Green Party ticket (and scored 52,000 votes).

He died at age 82 in his home on Roosevelt Island.

[restaurant ad from the 1990 NYU course catalog]

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20 Responses to “Dining at Grandpa Munster’s on Bleecker Street”

  1. Richard Says:

    He was a wild guy. There’s a great profile covering his political antics here:


  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Great link, thanks! Yeah, it’s hard to know what was true and what was part of his shtick as an actor. But he was definitely a New York character.

  3. Leslie Says:

    Went there several times in my younger days and got a kick out of seeing Grandpa Munster. Thanks for the post!

  4. fdr Says:

    There is a playground on Roosevelt Island named for Al Lewis.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    I bet Butch Patrick doesn’t have a playground named for him!

  6. BestBrian Says:

    Nice guy. Big cop fan. It was always pretty funny for us to have a contract rally, and who would we have as a speaker? Grampa Al. 🙂

    He used to stand out in front of the restaurant on the sidewalk, and greet folks, beckon them in, and pose for photos. Real City Character, and that’s my hightest compliment.

  7. Ellen Says:

    I ate there once with a bunch of friends, and Grandpa Al posed with us for a few photos. The food was okay but we went for the atmosphere.

  8. Paul N Bassett Says:

    What’s up with the Grampa/Grandpa dichotomy?

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    Most references to his show character call him Grandpa, but he named his restaurant the more colloquial Grampa.

  10. Adam Bernstein Says:

    I saw him once standing outside the restaurant with his cape.

  11. Amvest Video’s Grampa Presents VHS Series: 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1988) | THE NORTHEAST OHIO VIDEO HUNTER Says:

    […] dude even had his own NYC restaurant for a few years. Fun fact: I’ve got a matchbook and a take-out menu from said restaurant in […]

  12. Kathy Hauser Says:

    Always loved the Munsters and had a postcard from Grampas restaurant but never got to go there. We loved him when he was on Howard Sterns television show in the 90s. RIP.

  13. Marty Says:

    Don’t forget about him in Car 54.

  14. King Lam Says:

    Is this restaurant still in business?

    • Marilyn Says:

      can anyone tell me that Granpas resturant still in business i loved Al Lewis an i still watch the Munsters today if this rest.is still here i would defently go there the next time im in ny

    • DC Says:

      Sorry, no. As the article states, it closed decades ago

  15. Martha Ostrow Says:

    I ate there and met him at his restaurant in the early 80s, he was so charming.

  16. James Sheraton Says:

    Was on Bleecker Street with my wife, probably in 1987, and Al Lewis had his RV travel van parked in front of his restaurant. One of his associates at the restaurant motioned to us and said, “Do you want to meet Grandpa from “The Munster’s.” We said hello and met with him. Al seemed to be an unassuming fellow and probably very likable. Just another fabulous memory when we lived in fabulous New York.

  17. Maria Capone Says:

    Hi. Is Grampas restaurant NYC still in business? What’s the address?

  18. Wendy winters Says:

    That’s 🥲 sweet, good for Al Lewis, we’ll all miss him. Hell of a good try in the old ball 🏈 park, eh? World won’t be the same without you…

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