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Elaine's is shutting its doors.
Celebrities and bold names and the publishing elite made Elaine Kaufman's restaurant famous. But you didn't have to be a star to pass her personal test and join the inner circle of regulars.
Elaine Kaufman, the colorful restaurateur whose East Side establishment, Elaine's, became a haven for show business and literary notables, died Friday at the age of 81.
Elaine Kaufman was a 34-year-old waitress and restaurant manager from the Bronx when she opened her restaurant in 1963, serving unremarkable Italian food in a prosaic space on Manhattan's Upper East Side. With the help of a public relations pal, a fondness for interesting people and a weakness for struggling writers, she turned the humble eatery into a celebrity hangout that attracted the biggest names in film and literature and left New Yorkers wondering: how do I get a table at Elaine's?
"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."
"I'll certainly miss it incredibly if the place is gone for good," said Woods. "It will be the end of an era. There are going to be a lot of writers wandering up and down Second Avenue, looking for a place to have dinner."