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Elaine Kaufman had a lot of friends, and I was privileged to be one of them,” he said in a statement Friday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called her “a New York institution.”

Among those who attended the 25th anniversary celebration were Sidney Lumet, Eli Wallach, Raquel Welch, Jackie Mason, Billy Dee Williams and Cheryl Tiegs.

Allen became a regular, Kaufman told The Associated Press in 1988, because “he loves to people-watch. It’s comfortable, nobody bothers him, we make him what he wants.”

Despite complaints over the years that she banished less-interesting people to the worst tables, Kaufman did not consider herself a snob, arguing that her restaurant simply attracted a sophisticated crowd.

Talese, an Elaine’s regular since its early days, portrayed her as a no-nonsense hostess who could be prickly at times because of the demanding job.

“She wasn’t a fraud. You got what you got. You got her backtalk and you got that she sometimes didn’t feel like talking to you even if she liked you,” Talese said Friday. “But she was always worthy of respect because she worked so hard. She knew everything that went on in that restaurant, right down to how much salt and pepper were in the shakers.”

Kaufman was proud that she didn’t change her business to appeal to changing styles.

“I started with a little restaurant and that’s what I’ve ended up with,” Kaufman said in 1993. “It wasn’t broke so I didn’t fix it.”

Until the end of her life, she was always fascinated by people.

Diane Becker, Elaine’s manager for 26 years, describes a scene from when Kaufman was brought to the emergency room of Lenox Hill Hospital a few weeks ago.

“She said, ‘Look at this emergency room, there’s nothing boring about it! There’s always someone coming in, always something happening,’” Becker said.

The restaurant plans to remain open.


Former Associated Press Writer Polly Anderson, AP writer Verena Dobnik, AP Arts Editor Dolores Barclay and AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.