A ghost restaurant sign reappears on 14th Street

Old signs revealing an earlier layer of New York keep popping up these days, and the latest is on 14th Street just east of Eighth Avenue.


When the liquor store that occupied number 254 for at least a few decades closed its doors recently, they took their shop sign with them—uncovering the signage for a long-shuttered Greek restaurant.

Pappasfront14thstPappas got its start perhaps as early as the 1910s, as this thread from a genealogy site seems to indicate:

“In 1914, Christos Papagianakos’ Ellis Island manifest says he was going to his Aunt Athanasia (and Uncle Jimmy’s) at 254 W. 14th Street, New York City.”

Pappas14thstPappas operated at least until 1973 (the chef was shot one night—this was 1970s New York).

And it was enough of a dining destination that management printed postcards. Old phone exchange: WAtkins!

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18 Responses to “A ghost restaurant sign reappears on 14th Street”

  1. RED DAVE Says:

    I think I remember Pappas as Greek restaurants, except for the ubiquitous souvlaki joints, were fairly rare in the City at that time. Most of them were clustered in the 8th and 9th avenue stretches of Hell’s Kitchen in the low 40s. Some lingered on into the 80s. I wonder if any of those wonderful, unpretentious places linger on.

    • An Old Friend Says:

      Dear RED DAVE, can you please reply to this if you’re still active and reading posts? There’s an old post at IIDB—if you’re that same RED DAVE—that I’d like to clear up over coffee sometime. I’m in NY now.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I think a few are still up there: the wonderful Poseidon bakery, of course, and Uncle Nick’s.

  3. EV Grieve Etc: Mourning edition | NYC Real Estate News Says:

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  4. Frank M Says:

    I’m quite sure that Pappa’s was the sister store of the Chelsea Steak and Chop House which was on the east side of Eighth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd, where New London Pharmacy stands today. Each was a white table cloth restaurant serving wonderful, reasonably-priced food. The waiters at both were professional, long-term employees, and the regulars were all neighbors one knew or at least recognized. The types of places that are sorely missed, even after so many years, and that made this a “home neighborhood”, not just a mere and fleeting “destination”.

    And the memories do, thankfully, indeed, linger.

    • Stratis Says:

      This was my grandfathers and his brothers who owned Pappas. That was the sign they put up at the turn of the century.

      • Alexander J.M. Says:

        My Grandfather was James Morfogen… married to Christine. I remember going there in the very early 70’s

        Alexander J. M.

    • Stratis Morfogen Says:

      My dad john Morfogen owned Chelsea House – you are correct. I recently used his font at my Brooklyn Chop House as a tribute.

    • Stratis Morfogen Says:

      I’m working on bringing Pappas back w the sign that reappeared.

  5. John David Howard Says:

    Would be awesome if it was restored as a Greek restaurant, that old interior shot is great….

  6. Ellen Levitt Says:

    Hey, just because this is NY doesn’t mean the cook gets shot. Happens elsewhere.

  7. A cool old laundromat sign on Ninth Avenue | Ephemeral New York Says:

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  8. Nick Morfogen Says:

    Pappas restaurant was run by the Morfogen brothers: Paul, James, Sam and Nick and, i think, a Mr. Pappas. The brothers’ Greek surname was actually Morfogenis. The name was “Americanized” when an Uncle of theirs went to live in St. Louis in the 1890’s and returned without the “-is” ending.

    They sold their sister restaurant near the corner of 23rd street and 8th Avenue to my father, George Morfogen and his two brothers (Peter and John) in 1954 after my father had returned from fighting in Korea and marrying my mother, Zacharoula, in Greece. They kept the name Chelsea Steak and Chop House and worked together until expanding with more resaurants to Flushing, Queens and Bellerose, Long Island.

    Regular customers through the decades were: Jackie Robinson (who was an executive for the nearby Chock-ful-of Nuts company;
    Arthur Miller (who was staying at the Chelsea Hotel around the corner); the Irish playwright, Brendan Behan who asked my father for only NON-English gin in his drinks; Mr. Will Weng, the great NY Times crossword puzzle editor (before Maleska and Shortz); Gus Hall; head of the American Communist Party; Sid Vicious and Nancy who were staying at the Chelsea Hotel; and others.

    • Chrissie Says:

      The Morfogen Brothers were very generous to their whole extended family. Growing up I heard how the uncles employed all their nephews-when jobs( back in the day) were hard to get for everyone.

      The Morfogen Brothers left a true American legacy. The first, second and third generation of Morfogen family members are all model American citizens.
      They are successful in all professions and vocations.

      They came from Anavriti Greece with NOTHING; God bless their memory.

      I’m a proud member of generation two.

  9. Dylan Pappas Says:

    Nick —

    As it seems, my great grandfather owned a restaurant with the Morfogen brothers. Check out this link:

    • Nicholas G. Morfogen Says:

      Thank you for sharing the link with more info about your great grandfather Dylan. My dad told me that during prohibition they ran it as a speakeasy.

  10. gary recker Says:

    i worked nearby and still rank their red snapper as “the best”. it was closed by the irs for non payment of taxes. george morfogen became the executive chef of the fish restaurant in grand central station and retired to new jersey where i saw him from time to time at a golf course we both used

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