Restaurateur Elaine Kaufman passed away recently. She was the celebrated owner of the Upper East Side eatery Elaine’s in New York City. Her restaurant was the celebrity hangout for years. The Italian food served was known for being over priced and average, but the customers kept coming back to be in the company of its warm gregarious owner. Elaine had a soft spot for writers and would help them anyway she could.
Below is an excerpt from Trippin’ with Terry Southern: What I Think I Remember where Gail Gerber shares a special memory of Elaine:
On Monday night we went to Elaine’s. A party was arranged for the following week to celebrate the Virgin book and to send Terry and me off to London. Elaine loved her writers, and tolerated their wives and girlfriends, as long as they didn’t do anything too gauche. Her generosity was endless, and writers had tabs there running for years—I know Terry did. One night, long ago there was a terrible blizzard, and we were heading back to Canaan very late, with me at the wheel. Terry insisted on stopping at Elaine’s despite that it was out of the way. Elaine was there counting her receipts while one waiter bustled about clearing up. She gazed outside the window to watch the heavily falling snow, turned to us, and pushed a large bill across the bar, saying, “Here, you may need this tonight.” We drove a little way up the West Side Highway and checked into a motel for the night.