14 August 2013

Old Schrafft's Building Destroyed


A reader wrote in in dismay last week to report that workmen were tearing down a one-story structure at 155 E. 79th Street between Lexington and Third that used to be an outpost of the once prominent New York eatery chain Schrafft's. He sent the above photo, which—sadly—was taken after the structure was on its way out.

"This was a charming one story building, set between two residential buildings, that was a kind of white stone, art-deco castle," he wrote. "It was, I believe, built to be a Schrafft's, but had been an antique shop for many years. You can see it as a Schrafft's in the opening shot of the 1959 Doris Day film 'Please Don't Eat The Daisies.'... This little treasure should have been preserved."

Elliott Galeries, the antique shop of which he spoke, announced on its website that it had moved to Brooklyn. According to the site, Elliott moved into the space in 1979. Here's a picture of the lovely little building when Elliott possessed it:


The sale of the building was handled by real estate monolith Massey Knakel, which is often in the wings when lovely old New York properties get destroyed. "The site will be used for residential development," Massey states in its listing. “This sale, after 30 years of ownership, underscores the current strength of the redevelopment taking place on East 79th Street within the Upper East Side development market."

I can't believe I found this, but here's a picture of the building when it was a Schrafft's:


Isn't that the sweetest little thing you ever saw? Can you imagine any developer in New York, possessed of a piece of real estate on E. 79th Street in Manhattan, who would choose to build a decorative, one-story building on purpose, as Schrafft's did? 

The picture is from 1944. So the Schrafft's was there at least 35 years. Christopher Gray at the New York Times tells us that this particular building was built by Boss & Hesse. The facade was marble. And now it's gone. 

10 comments:

Rebecca Charles said...

My hot fudge sundae is in there in the rubble...along with my childhood.


Rebecca Charles

Anonymous said...

There used to be a Schrafft's on Fifth Avenue and 13th Street. Had a lovely sweeping staircase that went to a second floor balcony. Very elegant and fun. It really was intrinsic to our New York quality of life.....

Deirdre said...

Didn't that become the Lone Star Cafe, 4:52 PM?

Grade A Karen said...

What kind of monster could destroy something so beautiful?

MelissaMichelle said...

I've never been to NY but I'm going next month and am looking for the best places to eat. I'm going to search through your blog for places that are still open! What would you say is your favorite eatery in the city?

Mitch said...

Havexa knish at Katz's and a burger and a beer at the Old Town

upstate johnny g said...

Sigh...........yet another slice of heritage is sent to the landfill in the name of overarching greed. Why is it that, more and more, the only values that seem to matter are monetary ones?

Anonymous said...

There was also a Schrafft's in the Village! On Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, with a great sweeping stair case and balcony seating.

I worked briefly as a waitress in the uptown Schrafft's. Was the only American born one there--all the rest were young Irish girls with thick brogues. They were incredibly fast, efficient, funny and impatient with me. I lasted about a month.

It was a great spot--not too expensive--but elegant and serene and made you feel you were wearing white gloves even when you weren't. In a pleasant way.

Lionel said...

I had an aunt who worked at Schrafft’s on 57th street for many years; in fact she received a pension from the company upon retirement. I looked forward to visiting her and being made a fuss over by her co-workers and friends. I think having an Irish brogue was a prerequisite for employment in Schrafft’s. She lived to be very old but remained in good health both physically and mentally. The friends she made there remained in touch with one another even after they retired.

Anonymous said...

Every trip into work with dad mom would caravan my six brothers and sisters over to schrafts on 57th for breakfast we allways got bacon rolls just bacon on awarmed up kaiser roll HEaven! The waitreses were all irish and at the time of indeterminite age with i think lace around the neck we wispered when we it there it felt the proper way to behave.mom would linger over coffee drawn from an ornate giant coffee maker off to the side. Then it was off on one moms all day shopping expeditions.