Sardi's (Restaurant)

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Sardi's restaurant at 234 West 44th Street in New York City's theater district was opened on March 5, 1927 by Vincent and Eugenia Sardi.

Inspired by a Paris restaurant, Sardi contracted with caricaturists to draw prominent restaurant patrons to illustrate the walls. The first caricaturist was Alex Gard who received a meal a day in return for his drawings and drew for Sardi's until his death in 1948. He was followed by John Mackey, whose tenure was brief, and then Don Bevan who worked from the early 1950s until his retirement in 1974.

From the description of Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952?. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122378587

Sardi's restaurant at 234 West 44th Street in New York City's theater district was opened on March 5, 1927 by Vincent and Eugenia Sardi and soon became a famous theatrical landmark.

Inspired by a Paris restaurant, Sardi contracted with caricaturists to draw his prominent restaurant patrons, primarily actors, directors, producers and others connected to the stage, to illustrate the walls. In 1947 the senior Sardis retired and their son Vincent Sardi, Jr. took the helm.

From the description of Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures and papers, 1913-1976. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122625985

Sardi's restaurant at 234 West 44th Street in New York City's theater district was opened on March 5, 1927 by Vincent and Eugenia Sardi and soon became a famous theatrical landmark.

Inspired by a Paris restaurant, Sardi contracted with caricaturists to draw his prominent restaurant patrons, primarily actors, directors, producers and others connected to the stage, to illustrate the walls. In 1947 the senior Sardis retired and their son Vincent Sardi, Jr. took the helm.

From the description of Sardi's (Restaurant) papers, 1913-1976. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122454987

Sardi's restaurant opened on March 5, 1927. For Vincent Sardi (Melchiorre Pio Vincenza Sardi) and his wife, Eugenia "Jenny" Pallera Sardi, immigrants from Italy, this was their second restaurant. They had originally, in 1921, opened a restaurant at 146 West 44th Street called the Little Restaurant (named for the Winthrop Ames' Little Theater next door, now the new Helen Hayes Theater). It lasted until 1926. A year later they opened their new restaurant, Sardi's, that stands today in the same spot at 234 West 44th Street in which it opened in 1927.

A group of columnists and press agents began meeting at Sardi's every day for lunch. They were dubbed the Cheese Club. A member of this club, press agent Irving Hoffman, brought Alex Gard to meet this Cheese Club. Gard, born Alexis Kremoff in Kazan, Russia, had fled Russia after the Revolution and went to Bulgaria, France and, finally, to the United States. He had drawn caricatures of his commanding officers in the Russian Imperial Naval Academy and had had the occasional caricature published in Le Matin in France during his stay in that country. At Sardi's, he drew caricatures of the Cheese Club, which Vincent Sardi put on the walls of Sardi's restaurant, thus beginning the long tradition that continues until today.

Vincent Sardi wanted to imitate a Paris restaurant, Zelli's, that placed caricatures on the walls of the restaurant. Sardi and Gard signed a contract that provided a meal a day in Sardi's for Alex Gard in return for his caricatures. It was stipulated that Sardi could not complain about the caricatures and Gard could not complain about the food. The first caricature under this agreement was bandleader and comedian, Ted Healy (the man who brought the Three Stooges together). Sardi's restaurant soon became a theatrical landmark famous for the caricatures of its prominent patrons primarily actors, directors, producers and others connected to the stage.

In 1947 the senior Sardis retired and their son Vincent Sardi, Jr. took the helm. The following year Alex Gard died, but the position of house caricaturist was maintained as a Sardi's tradition.

From the guide to the Sardi's (Restaurant) papers, 1913-1976, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Sardi's restaurant opened on March 5, 1927. For Vincent Sardi (Melchiorre Pio Vincenza Sardi) and his wife, Eugenia "Jenny" Pallera Sardi, this was their second restaurant. They had originally, in 1921, opened a restaurant at 146 West 44th Street called the Little Restaurant (named for the Winthrop Ames' Little Theater next door, now the new Helen Hayes Theater). It lasted until 1926. A year later they opened their new restaurant, Sardi's, that stands today in the same spot at 234 West 44th Street in which it opened in 1927.

A group of columnists and press agents began meeting at Sardi's every day for lunch. They were dubbed the Cheese Club. A member of this club, press agent Irving Hoffman, brought Alex Gard to meet this Cheese Club. Alex Gard was born Alexis Kremoff in Kazan, Russia. Gard had fled Russia after the Revolution and went to Bulgaria, France and, finally, to the United States. He had drawn caricatures of his commanding officers in the Russian Imperial Naval Academy and had had the occasional caricature published in Le Matin in France during his stay in that country. In France, he began calling himself Alex Garde, as in en garde. Through a typo in Le Matin, Alex Garde became Alex Gard, the name he took with him to America. At Sardi's, he drew caricatures of the Cheese Club, which Vincent Sardi put on the walls of Sardi's restaurant, thus beginning the long tradition that continues until today.

Vincent Sardi wanted to imitate a Paris restaurant, Zelli's, that placed caricatures on the walls of the restaurant. Sardi and Gard signed a contract that provided a meal a day in Sardi's for Alex Gard in return for his caricatures. It was stipulated that Sardi could not complain about the caricatures and Gard could not complain about the food. The first caricature under this agreement was bandleader and comedian, Ted Healy (the man who brought the Three Stooges together). Alex Gard became known as the little man from Sardi's who put big noses on big people. He also worked as a regular theatrical caricaturist for the New York Herald Tribune, trying out many of his caricatures in print before doing the one that would be placed on Sardi's walls. The only gap in production of these caricatures was during the period of World War II when Alex Gard was in the navy. Alex Gard died in 1948 after collapsing at the Times Square subway station. He had drawn 720 caricatures for the walls of Sardi's during his reign as their official caricaturist.

It took a couple of years before Vincent Sardi selected John Mackey to replace Alex Gard. He did not last long as Vincent Sardi was not impressed with his caricatures.

Jack Kirkland (who wrote the stage version of Tobacco Road ) recommended his son-in-law, Don Bevan, who had just lost his job at Eagle Lion Films. Bevan had drawn caricatures of enlisted men for the combat room during his time in the service. War correspondent, Walter Cronkite, had fed these drawings to his wire service. Bevan was shot down and imprisoned in Stalag 17, where along with fellow prisoner, Edmund Trzcinski, he wrote the play, Stalag 17 . They later adapted this play, written for the prison camp, for the New York stage. At Eagle Lion Films, Bevan had created poster art and lobby cards after the war before meeting with Vincent Sardi.

His first caricature for Sardi's, in the early fifties, was Denholm Elliot. Bevan turned out approximately a caricature a month for Sardi's. He also worked for the Daily News and the Baltimore Sun during this time. He retired as Sardi's caricaturist in 1974.

Richard Baratz replaced Don Bevan after a public competition. The Sardi's caricature collection at the Billy Rose Theatre Division does not, as yet, include any examples of the work of Richard Baratz.

From the guide to the Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952?, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Sardi's (Restaurant) papers, 1913-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Sardi's (Restaurant). Sardi's (Restaurant) papers, 1913-1976. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Sardi's (Restaurant). Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952?. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Milton Caniff Collection, 1805-2007, 1910-1988 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
creatorOf Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures, 1927-1952? The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Sardi's (Restaurant). Sardi's (Restaurant) caricatures and papers, 1913-1976. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Al Capp person
associatedWith Alfred Drake person
associatedWith Arthur Margetson person
associatedWith Arthur Murray person
associatedWith Bessie Love person
associatedWith Bevan, Donald. person
associatedWith Cooley, Lydia person
associatedWith D. W. Griffith person
associatedWith Ed Sullivan person
associatedWith Freeman, Don, 1908-1978. person
associatedWith Freeman, Donald, 1908-1978. person
associatedWith Gard, Alex. person
associatedWith Gard, Alex. person
associatedWith George Jessel person
associatedWith Helen Keller person
associatedWith Lorenz Hart person
associatedWith Mackey, John person
associatedWith Mackey, John. person
associatedWith Milton Caniff person
associatedWith Paula Wayne person
associatedWith Paul Muni person
associatedWith Peter Lorre person
associatedWith Royle, Selena, 1904-1983 person
associatedWith Sardi, Vincent, 1885-1969. person
associatedWith Sardi, Vincent, 1915- person
associatedWith Sardi, Vincent, 1915-2007. person
associatedWith Sothern, Ann, 1909- person
associatedWith Tamara Geva person
associatedWith Texas Guinan person
associatedWith Tito Schipa person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
New York (State)--New York
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Entertainers--Caricatures and cartoons
Restaurants--Decoration
Restaurants--New York (State)--New York
Restaurants
Entertainers--New York (State)--New York--Caricatures and cartoons
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1927

Active 1952

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