Luchow's


Luchow's

Luchow's was a restaurant in New York City formerly located at 110-112 East 14th Street, with the property running clear through the block to 13th street. It was founded in 1882 when a waiter, August Luchow, purchased the German restaurant and beer garden he had been working at, and remained in operation for a full century, closing in 1982 after a suspicious fire gutted the building.

Luchow, an immigrant from Hanover, arrived in the United States in 1879. He was reportedly rotund and good-spirited, and was able to purchase the restaurant by having obtained a $1500 loan from piano magnate William Steinway, who ate there regularly.

Cuisine

The original menu was strongly German, with dishes including Wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, and wild game. Apparently this changed in the mid-1920s, but was restored in 1950, when after 10 years of negotiations, Jan Mitchell purchased the restaurant. Mitchell also restored a tradition of week long "galas" such as the venison festival, bock beer festival, a goose feast, and so on.

Patrons

Until the movie industry overtook live theater in the 1920s and 1930s, the area near Luchow's was a center for the entertainment industry, and many prominent members of the entertainment community dined there, including Steinway, Julia Marlowe, John Barrymore , and Weber and Fields. Writers were also well represented, including O. Henry, Theodore Dreiser, Ross Wetzsteon. "Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960". New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN 0-68486-996-9. "Though not a man for congenial table-hopping, Theodore could occasionally be found at Romany Marie's in the Brevoort Hotel, and the Purple Cat on Washington Square ... But his favourite haunts were Luchow's, the German restaurant on 14th Street, and Polly's restaurant on Macdougal Street ... " (p. 299) ] O. O. McIntyre, Thomas Wolfe, and Edgar Lee Masters. Tammany Hall politicians were also frequently to be found among the customers.

Victor Herbert

Composer Victor Herbert is particularly strongly associated with Luchow's. He not only ate at the restaurant regularly, he also did some of his composition there. As late as 1957, his usual table was known as the "Victor Herbert Corner". In 1901, August Luchow was convinced by Herbert to feature live music, mostly by German composers such as Richard Strauss, Johannes Brahms and Herbert himself. In 1914, Herbert held a meeting at Luchow's that led to the formation of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Decor

The decor included over sixty oil paintings, many by well-known artists such as Francisco Goya, Anthony Van Dyck, Van Mienis, Snydes, and Sweden's Augusto Haagborg. The Haagborg was purchased by Luchow at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. There was also a collection of over 200 beer steins, and a number of mounted hunting trophies made from animals shot by Luchow. In 1957, the restaurant included seven dining rooms, among them the Hunting Room, which contained the trophies, and the Niebelungen Room, decorated with murals based on Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle operas.

After 1982

In 1992, the property was purchased by New York University and a dormitory was constructed.

References

* [http://www.tipsontables.com/Luchows.html 1957 article on Luchow's 75th anniversary]
* [http://www.onlyonfilm.com/locations/luchowsrestaurant.shtml.shtml Luchow's entry at Only on Film] , site devoted to demolished locations which can be seen in old films.


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