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Celebrities like Allen knew that Elaine’s was one place where no one would bother them. And there were plenty of celebrities.

“Catherine Deneuve used to go there when she was in town,” Benson said. “Willie Nelson. Clint Eastwood. A lot of unlikely people.”

Carey said she met her best friend, mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, at Elaine‘s. She also met mystery writer Stuart Woods, whose protagonist is always having dinner at Elaine‘s.

Ruda Dauphin, the U.S. representative of France’s Deauville American Film Festival, said she brought people by to show them off to Kaufman and to show Kaufman off to them.

“I brought in Buzz Aldrin,” she said. “From the moon to Elaine‘s. He loved it.”

Klieman said that Kaufman would tell her, “I think you might want to stay tonight” when she was expecting a Jack Nicholson or a James Gandolfini.

Her husband, Bratton, said the clientele spanned the range of New York life from writers and actors to the occasional mobster.

“The cast of characters could best be described as sort of a Damon Runyon crew,” he said.

Many of the regulars have been returning to Elaine’s every night since the closing was announced and planned to be there Thursday.

“Everybody changed their plans in order to be there,” Klieman said.

They will exchange numbers and make plans to keep in touch, but it won’t be the same.

“Everybody will eventually find a new place to go but we won’t all find a new place together,” Carey said. “We’ll all gravitate to different places.”

There may be speeches. There will surely be tears.

“It’s like losing Elaine twice: first herself, then the living room where she conducted her nightly salon,” Woods, the mystery writer, said in an email. “It was a club where the public were allowed to pay to watch the members dine, and the members liked that.”