Posts Tagged ‘Lobster Palaces’

Churchill’s all-night restaurant in Times Square

February 16, 2015

When Times Square became the city’s premier entertainment district at the turn of the century, palatial “lobster palaces” like Churchill’s was a big part of the fun.


This incarnation of Churchill’s, launched by a former police captain, opened in 1910 at the corner of Broadway and 49th Street.

On opening night, “fully 2,500 guests dined either in the main dining room or the balcony,” noted the New York Times. These guests were the “leading lights of the city’s political and theatrical circles.”

By 1921 it had shut down, a victim of the Volstead Act. This might be a piece of a menu from Churchill’s in 1917, with quite a meat list!

When “Lobster Palaces” ruled Times Square

July 5, 2010

Massive restaurants offering pig-out portions of food are a Times Square tradition going back to 1900.

That’s about when the theater district relocated to what was then Long Acre Square.

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.