Monday, May 14, 2007

Blast From The Past - Pen and Pencil



I recently strolled down 45th Street here in Manhattan and got to thinking about what was once called steak row. John Bruno's Pen and Pencil, now long gone, was the restaurant that started it all when it opened at 205 East 45th Street back in 1939. I only ate there once, back in the 1980's but it was a memorable experience. A classic old New York establishment, it is sad that it is gone.

5 comments:

Nicholas said...

My parents used to eat at Pen and Pencil in the '40s and regarded Carl's in Larchmont as the only acceptable suburban substitute when they moved to White Plains. I took my new wife to P&P in the late 60s and had what we remember as the best restaurant experience of our lives. Chateaubriand for two, looked like a football. No waiters in sight until you thought you might want one and then there he was, no signal needed. Professionals, no little twerp trying to tell me how to read the menu.

Deb Maltby said...

I was googling Pen and Pencil and found this post and comment. My dad, Herb Kadison, was the publicist for the Pen and Pencil for a number of years in the 40s and maybe into the 50s. He was a former Broadway press agent. I only recall going there twice: once as a little girl about 1956, when I was taken into the kitchen and introduced to the chef and to Mr. Bruno, and again in 1969. That second time the service was as you describe it, Nicholas, and the food was amazing. I'd love to know more about when it closed, etc.

Kristin Mika said...

I thought you might be interested in my memory of Pen & Pencil from teh 80s.... http://bit.ly/9WjvxU

Unk said...

My family had a business across the street at 216 E. 45th. My grandfather knew John Bruno when he ran a sandwich place on 45th. Later, when John opened the Pen and Pencil, our family had a regular private table luncheon on Thursdays and Fridays for our clients.
The name of the restaurant is related to its location. Yes, 45th Street was known as "Steak Row", but the roots were in its proximity to the NY Times, the NY Journal-American and several other NY newspaper headquarters. The Pen and Pencil was a hangout for many journalists, reporters, editors in the world's media capital. Also, it was an important venue for the Madison Avenue gang-the Ad Agency heaven.
Neighboring restaurants were somewhat related. The Press Box was opened by the P&P's former maitre de, Danny's Hideaway was owned by a nephew. Also in the are was one of the other giants, Christ Cella,The Palm and others were all in the neighborhood.

Aunt Pie said...

My uncle, Richard Polk was a waiter at the Pen and Pencil for many years. I still have some menus and a bar tender'guide from there.