This one doesn't hurt me as much as yesterday's news that Joe's Superette has closing. I was never a regular at Elaine's, and probably wouldn't have been accepted if I had tried to be. Also, no one much expected it to last long after Elaine died last year. But it was a landmark, and the kind of place that could only crop up in New York. Too bad its famous clientele wasn't as faithful to Elaine's memory as they had been to her.
Six months after the death of its legendary proprietor, Elaine’s restaurant will close its doors next week.
On Tuesday, Elaine’s longtime manager, who inherited the restaurant from Elaine Kaufman, said that the business was no longer viable. She said that Elaine’s last night would be May 26. The last last call will come around 4 the following morning.
“The truth is, there is no Elaine’s without Elaine,” the manager, Diane Becker, said. She added, “The business is just not there without Elaine.”
A spokeswoman for Ms. Becker said she would put the two buildings on Second Avenue that house the restaurant on the market.
“I’m enormously proud of the waiters, the bartenders and the entire staff who have worked so hard with me to keep the place open and going since Elaine’s passing in December,” she said, “but it’s simply not a viable situation.”
It was an announcement that anxious regulars had dreaded as Ms. Kaufman’s on-and-off health problems had become more of a preoccupation around Elaine’s checkered-tablecloth tables.
Ms. Kaufman, who was 81 when she died on Dec. 3 of complications from emphysema, left the restaurant and most of her estate to Ms. Becker. That included two adjoining five-story buildings on Second Avenue — the restaurant has occupied the ground floor of the two buildings for more than 40 years — and Ms. Kaufman’s co-op apartment a few blocks away.
Ms. Kaufman’s will directed Ms. Becker to sell the apartment and to spend the money on estate taxes and four bequests totaling $230,000. But the apartment remains on the market. The original asking price of $2.95 million has been reduced to $2.75 million.
Ms. Becker had worked for Ms. Kaufman since the mid-1980s and had said repeatedly that the restaurant would keep going. “The only missing link is Elaine,” she said in January.
But Elaine’s had become an anomaly, a single-owner restaurant in an age of deep-pocketed investors and celebrity chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.
In recent months, the restaurant appeared only empty, even on prime weekend dining nights.