Theatre District Restaurant Barrymore's to Shutter at End of January

By Robert Simonson
January 24, 2006

The latest old-time theatre district restaurant to fall victim to Midtown's relentless real estate market is Barrymore's, the narrow, low-key showfolk hangout located at 267 W. 45th St. just off the east side of Eighth Avenue.

The New York Times reported Jan. 22 that Barrymore's would close at the end of January. The Shubert Organization, which owns the building which houses the eatery, confirmed the news. Barrymore's is expected to stay open until Sunday, Jan. 29.

The closing comes only a couple weeks after Broadway habitues bid farewell to McHale's, a bar popular with stagehands and other rank and file types. 

Other recent closings include the Howard Johnson's facing Time Square and JR's, another 46th Street restaurant. The McHale's site will be taken over by a 42-story highrise.

While not as storied as such theatrical food-and-drink meccas as Sardi's and Joe Allen's, Barrymore's was a popular standby with numerous theatre professionals, who were attracted by the cozy atmosphere and affordable (by area standards) menu.

Feb 3, 2006

Die Leichenflederer haben schon zugeschlagen:

Das BARRYMORES-Schild gibt es bei einem amerikanischen Antiquitätenhändler für

2500.- $


Barrymores Restaurant 1993

Those sighing and sniffling sounds you heard last Sunday came from actors, aspiring actors, stagehands, press agents, producers, and other showbiz folk mourning the loss of yet another old favorite theater district restaurant: Barrymores, a longtime presence on West 45th Street.

This fixture was only the most recent casualty of the real estate boom in Times Square, and it won't be the last. January 16 was closing night for McHale's restaurant and bar, which had done a thriving business at the corner of 46th and Eighth Avenue since 1953. Sam's, Frankie and Johnnie's, and Puleo's, all in the same block of small buildings as Barrymores, will be gone within a few years. And Mont Blanc, a Swiss restaurant on West 48th Street that has been a closely guarded secret of stagehands and other theater cognoscenti, will close on February 25 to make way for something that Manhattan needs very badly: another ridiculously high-priced condominium.

"Frankie and Johnnie's is on the same lease that we are, but they've been extended another year," says Barrymores' co-owner/maitre d' Craig Dawson, who worked there for 12 years and at the restaurant next door -- now Sam's, previously Charlie's -- since 1976. "The demolition appears to be about three years away. We had a lease extension till the end of January; then we were offered another year, but we couldn't handle the rent increase. This whole section of the block is supposed to be torn down so a new hotel can be built.

"McHale's had a lot of locals and stagehands and other theater people," says Dawson. "We had our share of those too, but also a big tourist base. I've found that, especially since the revitalization of 42nd Street, people who come to town either eat at restaurants in the Marriott or whatever hotel they're staying in, or they eat at chain restaurants. If they do happen to find a real New York theater spot, they come back year after year: 'Remember us? We're from Indiana!' But most people today go elsewhere." Of course, under the right circumstances, even a chain restaurant can become a favorite hangout of showbiz folk and theatergoers: The Howard Johnson's that stood at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway for half a century, once so popular a place that it's fondly mentioned by several living legends in Rick McKay's wonderful documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, closed its doors forever last year and is soon to be demolished.

There are two basic reasons for these closings: (1) smaller, older buildings continue to be torn down to make way for more of the skyscrapers that have proliferated in the Times Square area over the past several years, and (2) even if a restaurant is located in a building that is not marked for demolition, rents increase so dramatically when leases expire that mom-and-pop eateries must yield to deep-pocketed restaurant chains. Some people may be surprised to hear that the landlord for Barrymores and Frankie and Johnnie's is the Shubert Organization, which has owned the property for the past five years or so.

"I just don't get the logic of why they want us out right now," says Dawson. "Why would the Shuberts want to have boarded-up property on 45th Street? They still have to pay the taxes, and they don't own the entire property yet; Daniela's and the Playwright Tavern on Eighth Avenue aren't yet sold and, to my knowledge, neither are Sam's or Puleo's." (The Shubert Organization declined to comment for this article.)

Just like the disappearance of HoJo's and McHale's, the shuttering of Barrymores has occasioned much lamentation. "It's been such an important place," says press agent Barbara Carroll, whom I spotted in the dining room just last week. "I love Craig and I love everyone else there." At the time of our interview, Dawson didn't know where he'd be working next; but he expressed his certainty that, once all of the old-style New York restaurants are gone from midtown, they' be sorely missed. "Where will people who work in the theater and live in this neighborhood go for dinner?" he wonders. "They can't go to fancy-schmancy restaurants every night. They want to go to their favorite little place to get a burger or steak or whatever. I don't understand how the city can allow this to happen; it would take a much smarter man than me to figure it out."

September 2000
Party morgens um 03 Uhr im Barrymores mit  Barkeeper JOE.
September 2000


JUNE 2008

It's been more than two years since the tiny, humble restaurants along the north side of W. 45th Street between Broadway and Eighth began folding one by one. Barrymore's, BAM! Sam's, BAM! Puleo's, BAM! And then they just sat there, boarded up, among the din of rumors that they had died that a coming hotel tower might live.

There were signs today that the low-slung building may soon finally bite the dust. The door to Barrymore's was open for the first time since the restaurant shuttered (see above). There were also openings in the shedding leading to the stoops of a couple of the buildings, with rat poison signs pasted on the doors of each—a sure sign of the coming end of a building. There were spray-painted squares on the buildings that I hadn't notice before. A few construction typed milled about, talking on cellphones and eating lunch.

An application to demolish Barrymore's was filed with the DOB back on Feb. 29. Ditto the other structures. Meanwhile, the nearby old-school steakhouse Frankie and Johnny's continues to mysteriously do business, having escaped the ax somehow.


267W 45th street  in GOOGLE-MAPS 2009

Zwischen Parkhaus (in der Mitte) und Frankie&Johnny's (ganz links)

nur noch eine große Baulücke!

This is it!

read more: http://lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/search/label/barrymore%27s