Joe Allen, the Theater District restaurateur whose title was synonymous with an evening out on Broadway, died Monday. He was 87.
Although he saved a condo above his well-known New York institution, Allen had been dwelling near his youngsters in New Hampshire for the previous a number of months, a spokesman informed The Post.
Allen opened his namesake eatery, Joe Allen, on West 46th Street in 1965 as a homey-but-elegant spot for actors and different theater sorts, though the debonair man had no stage ambitions himself. It was a dangerous gambit.
The titan of catering to theatrical clientele had lengthy been Sardi’s on West 44th Street, however, males have been nonetheless anticipated to put on tuxedos there, and your dinner may embody bumping into gossip columnists like Walter Winchell or The Post’s Leonard Lyons.
But over at the subdued Joe Allen’s, a dancer may present up sweaty after an efficiency together with her backpack, order a beer, and pet Allen’s Labrador retriever Alice, who would cozy as much as prospects. That was Tony-award winner Chita Rivera’s nightly routine throughout her run in “Chicago.”
Some of the restaurant’s different early regulars have been soon-to-be superstars Marsha Mason and Al Pacino.
“He’s a very good tipper,” Allen informed The Post of Pacino in 2012.
The proprietor’s modest gathering of associates quickly advanced into an empire, with Joe Allens popping up in Miami Beach, Ogunquit, Maine, London, and Paris. The French outpost, which opened in Les Halles in 1972 and now operates below new possession, was a trigger célèbre within the press at the time for being the primary to export the American hamburger to fickle France.
In 1983, Allen opened the Italian spot Orso subsequent door on 46th Street and the old-school speakeasy Bar Centrale upstairs in 2005. Alongside the celebs at Centrale, the place all of the boozy drinks include sidecars, you’ll find longtime Joe Allen common supervisor Mary Hattman manning the host stand most nights.
“It’s a sad day for all of us,” Hattman informed The Post. “I loved Joe dearly and will miss him forever. He brought so many people together.”
Allen’s spirit of conviviality endured even into the pandemic. Joe Allen’s has been shuttered throughout a lot of the previous yr, however, reopened for 2 months within the fall at decreased capability. On its first evening again, Oscar winner Joel Grey, a buyer because the late ’60s, was there at his desk, smiling and waving to different blissful devotees.
Missing, although, was the person who made all of it occur.
“Joe Allen was as much a part of the fabric of the theater community — frankly, as much a star — as anyone who ever dined or drank at his establishments,” mentioned Broadway publicist Rick Miramontez. “I am sorry he won’t be sitting on his barstool when Broadway finally comes roaring back, but his presence will be felt for many, many years to come.”
Days earlier than the restaurant started serving burgers once more in September, Rivera fondly recalled her romance with Allen within the ’70s that bloomed at his restaurant.
“I went out with Joe for a little bit during ‘Chicago,’ and nobody knew that he was a warm, funny guy that really cared,” Rivera, 88, mentioned. “I just want people to know that he is that guy. He is Joe’s.”