Saturday, December 4, 2010

In Memoriam: Elaine Kaufman

Elaine Kaufman 1929 - 2010 (Photo courtesy of NY Post)
The work week was winding down when the call was received. The “quarter to five call on a Friday is rarely a good thing,” I said aloud. It was my pal and Loungerati founder Fredo informing me that Elaine Kaufman had passed away. I locked up shop, grabbed my scarf and topcoat and walked down the middle of a freshly paved street, still fresh with the scent of tar. A half block later, I was in front of Elaine’s.  
Grace Gotham arrives at Elaine's December 3rd
Outside, I met Grace Gotham who years earlier (with her husband, Governor’s Island Coordinator Mr. Gotham) had first introduced me to dear Elaine, over one rather very memorable plate of linguine with clam sauce, served perfectly al dente. Though big names and the publishing elite made Elaine’s famous, as the Gotham’s and my wife and I had discovered, you didn’t have to be a celebrity to pass her personal test and join her circle. The door of Elaine’s was locked last night but Grace and I were welcomed in and sat amongst the privileged nine people allowed in for the first hour of operation.

China Girl and Eff at Elaine's
We saddled up at the elbow bend of her 25 foot mahogany bar. I snatched a Rusty Nail, Grace ordered champagne. We promptly joined in on tales about Elaine and all of her magic. I learned of one patron who was recently hauled off to an awaiting ambulance.  He ordered a refill, using his cell phone, while in the stretcher. One of Elaine’s waiters stepped outside to the double parked ambulance and served him up. Now THAT’S al fresco! Incidentally, after the ER visit, the patron returned for a late supper. I learned how decades earlier, when Marcello Mastroianni met Elaine, he too had the same perfectly al dente linguine. 

Since that first introduction, Elaine presided over such memorable events in my life as the first dinner I shared with my now wife, phase four of the bachelor party (kissing only the most handsome of the lot and making a point of telling us that!), and an anniversary dinner or two. When Elaine learned of my love for swing, she insisted we only be seated at Noel Coward’s old table. Hell, she even appeared in my wedding announcement  (and saw it before I did!). She opened up her living room to family and friends. Elaine was New York.
Here's to you Elaine!
But this particular night, was different. With news vans surrounding the joint, floodlights blazing, and folks being interviewed inside and out, there was but one thing missing. Rest sweetly, Elaine.

-Eff and the Loungerati staff

1 comment:

  1. This is such a touching and heartfelt piece, Eff! Very well done! Elaine would have been proud to read such genuine praise about the institution she built with her tenacity, saltiness, spiciness, wit, and faith in the great city that is New York!