Posts Tagged ‘Toffenetti’s’

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.

“Good Food” at Toffenetti in Times Square

April 7, 2009

I love this 1940s postcard and its, um, poetic description of Broadway—”where glamour sparkles forever.” But I get the feeling Toffenetti was one of those massive establishments with a ton of tables yet not such good food, as the sign above the door promises.


Opened in 1940, Toffenetti served up big plates of mid-century American staples; think ham, roast beef, strawberry shortcake, lots of pies. It shut its doors in 1968.

A New York Times article announcing the closing said Toffenetti had recently begun advertising an all-you-can-eat menu for just $3.95. Must have been a popular deal; the article goes on to say that they served 3,000 meals a day.