January 28, 2022


Free For All Food

Joe Allen, NYC theater district cafe icon, lifeless at 87

Joe Allen, the Theater District restaurateur whose identify was synonymous with a evening out on Broadway, died Monday. He was 87.

Whilst he saved an condominium previously mentioned his famous New York establishment, Allen experienced been dwelling shut to his young children in New Hampshire for the past several months, a spokesman instructed The Publish.

Allen opened his namesake eatery, Joe Allen, on West 46th Avenue in 1965 as a homey-but-tasteful place for actors and other theater sorts, though the debonair guy had no phase ambitions himself. It was a dangerous gambit.

The titan of catering to theatrical clientele experienced extended been Sardi’s on West 44th Avenue, but gentlemen were being nonetheless predicted to don tuxedos there, and your dinner may well include things like bumping into gossip columnists like Walter Winchell or The Post’s Leonard Lyons.

But about at the subdued Joe Allen’s, a dancer could demonstrate up sweaty right after a functionality with her backpack, order a beer and pet Allen’s Labrador retriever Alice, who would cozy up to clients. That was Tony-award winner Chita Rivera’s nightly program during her run in “Chicago.”

Some of the restaurant’s other early regulars have been soon-to-be superstars Marsha Mason and Al Pacino.

“He’s a quite very good tipper,” Allen explained to The Post of Pacino in 2012.

Joe Allen the restaurant on West 46th Street in 1965 as a homey-but-elegant spot for actors and other theater types.
Joe Allen, the cafe, opened on West 46th Street in 1965 as a homey-but-sophisticated spot for actors and other theater kinds.

The owner’s modest gathering of mates speedy evolved into an empire, with Joe Allens popping up in Miami Seaside, Ogunquit, Maine, London and Paris. The French outpost, which opened in Les Halles in 1972 and now operates below new ownership, was a cause célèbre in the push at the time for being the initial to export the American hamburger to fickle France.

In 1983, Allen opened the Italian location Orso subsequent doorway on 46th Street, and the previous-faculty speakeasy Bar Centrale upstairs in 2005. Along with the celebs at Centrale, wherever all the boozy drinks arrive with sidecars, you can come across longtime Joe Allen normal supervisor Mary Hattman manning the host stand most evenings.

“It’s a unhappy day for all of us,” Hattman advised The Article. “I liked Joe dearly and will pass up him permanently. He brought so several men and women alongside one another.”

Allen’s spirit of conviviality endured even into the pandemic. Joe Allen’s has been shuttered all through most of the earlier year, but reopened for two months in the fall at diminished capability. On its very first night time back again, Oscar winner Joel Gray, a purchaser because the late ’60s, was there at his table, smiling and waving to other happy devotees.

Missing, even though, was the male who designed it all occur.

“Joe Allen was as much a portion of the cloth of the theater community — frankly, as substantially a star — as anybody who ever dined or drank at his establishments,” reported Broadway publicist Rick Miramontez. “I am sorry he won’t be sitting on his barstool when Broadway eventually comes roaring back again, but his presence will be felt for numerous, numerous a long time to occur.”

Times ahead of the cafe commenced serving burgers again in September, Rivera fondly recalled her romance with Allen in the ’70s that bloomed at his cafe.

“I went out with Joe for a minimal bit during ‘Chicago,’ and no person realized that he was a warm, funny guy that genuinely cared,” Rivera, 88, explained. “I just want individuals to know that he is that dude. He is Joe’s.”