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Bidding Farewell to Elaine’s Upper East Side Restaurant

If you’ve loved Elaine’s over the years, you better get over there quickly for one last bite. That’s because the New York staple is closing its doors for good. When the legendary owner, Elaine Kaufman, passed away six months ago, the restaurant was bought by a new owner. Now, the two buildings occupied by the restaurant are up for sale at a reported $9.5 million and the final customers will get their fill on Thursday, May 26th.

Owners Bidding Farewell

Don’t start getting too angry with the current owners, however. As Diane Becker, Elaine’s dedicated manager and the one who inherited the restaurant explained, “This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. But the truth is, there is no Elaine’s without Elaine.”

Becker explained that she’s been sitting on the decision since Kaufman died and has known that this would probably come to pass. Since the economic downturn in 2008, business hasn’t been good and Kaufman was able to invest “hundreds of thousands” of dollars that belonged to her to keep the eatery going.

Business Falling Off

When Kaufman died, business got even worse. Becker explained that her decision was simply “a financial necessity.”

Since the news hit the public on Tuesday morning, long-time customers have been snapping up reservations and preparing to come for a farewell meal. The eatery opened on the upper East Side in 1963 and quickly became a hotspot for writers, screen stars and athletes.


The question on everyone’s tongue, however, is what will happen to all of Elaine’s memorabilia. There is a carousel horse in the front window, a Jackie Onassis photo from 1962 by Harry Benson and more. While no one yet knows what will become of the memorabilia, the two five-story walk-up buildings will certainly bring in a nice profit. Listed with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the buildings include 16 apartments including studio and one-bedroom units.

Michael Lorber, Prudential’s director of business development, explained that they have fielded many inquiries as, “People are fascinated. It’s a landmark.”


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)