Cavanagh's, New York, 1954
The rather plain façade of a massive Clearview movieplex now occupies the old Cavanagh's site at 254-260 West 23rd Street in Manhattan. A twelve-table clam bar called Kenny's had stood at number 258 since 1876 and John J. Cavanagh took it over in 1894 and so Cavanagh's was born. It soon became popular with Tammany Hall politicians and sporting figures, especially prize-fighters, and the business flourished. The restaurant expanded by taking over adjoining four story buildings and was soon hosting opera stars from the nearby Grand Opera House on Eighth Avenue. One attempt at innovation backfired spectacularly when a phonograph was introduced to provide entertainment to the patrons. That is, until the celebrated Metropolitan Opera House star Luisa Tetrazzini came in and caused a terrible scene after hearing "distortions" in her own voice. Unlike many other restaurants Cavanagh's survived the Prohibition years because it never had a bar and didn't rely on alcohol sales. The restaurant's early specialties included oyster stews, lobster, steaks, fried oysters and chops. This charming menu cover was illustrated by renowned artist Eugene Karlin.
For more reading see Cavanagh's A Week in New York, April 1946
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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