29 April 2009

Ye Olde Sign to Ye Olde Chop House

For decades, until it died in the 1970s, Ye Olde Chop Shop on Cedar Street was the oldest restaurant in New York City. It was founded in 1800 as Old Tom's Chop Shop. No eatery ever came close in age.

Nothing remains of the place—not even that many memories. Or so I thought, until yesterday. A reader wrote in saying a friend of his, Billy Ahearn, the owner of the downtown bar Suspenders Restaurant and Bar, was in possession of the original sign for Ye Olde Chop Shop.

What? Could this be true? The way the reader told the story, Ahearn, a retired NYC fire lieutenant, was beginning construction on Suspenders, which is located at 111 Broadway, nearly opposite the end of Pine Street, when he discovered the wooden sign, along with an old Chop House menu. I asked the reader if she could convince Ahearn to take a photo of the sign, which now hangs in his basement. He did. There it is above.

The story would seem to pan out. Ye Olde Chop House began life at 108 Cedar, then moved to 118 Cedar. But the last leg of its life was spent at 111 Broadway. And what other sign is going to say "Established 1800"? It's hard to tell how old the sign is. It could have been made as recently as 40 years ago, and fashioned to look old. But I don't know—it looks damned old to me. And whatever it's age, it's a bonafide artifact of one of the most famous restaurants to ever grace New York.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a cookbook put out by the Ford Motor Co in 1955 with a recipe from Ye Olde Chop House. It's for Corned Beef and Cabbage, if you're interested!

Virginia Dublin

Barry Alfonso said...

Your website is a rare beacon of light illuminating murky corners of New York lore! Thank you for the information on the demise of the fabled Ye Olde Chop House. Are you familiar with "The Restaurants of New York," written by George S. Chappell and published in 1925? There's a great deal of specifics about long-gone eating establishments in its pages.

Sean Hunter said...

Wow, this is very cool. My father Jac Kramer was the last owner of the restaurant. I spent many nights going into the city to have dinner at the "Chop House" at 111 Broadway as a kid. As a kid this as the coolest place in the world. There was one particular picture that hung to the right of the bar that always scared me. It was a woman sitting in front of a mirror with all her toiletries on the table. when you stood a few feet away it looked like a skull but as you approached it the real scene was revealed. We had the original menu hanging in our kitchen in NJ. Loved this place and was heartbroken to hear from my parents that it closed its doors while I was away in the Navy.

Unknown said...

My grandmother Florence Hannan worked here for many years for Mr Kramer.She always speaks so fondly of the place.i wish i could have seen it.