Gay Talese: ‘Everything that happens in New York was represented by people that came into Elaine’s’

Last night Elaine’s shut its doors forever, but luckily Grub Street was there to get some great quotes from some of the regulars, including Gay Talese, Lewis Lapham and James Lipton. Below is a few of their more interesting remarks.


What ends tonight is the life of a restaurant that was in a small space, less than 60 square yards. A place where New York was represented fully. It was like the United Nations of emotion. All the people. I don’t know what’s going to happen to replace it, maybe nothing. That’s what we are marking tonight, not celebrating anything, but marking the end of something. But New York is a city of rebirth, so there is certainly not going to be the end of anything in New York, because everything in New York that you think is dead revives by sunshine.


You could be a novelist, you could be a journalist, you could be a playwright, actor, or just somebody that liked to hang out and play cards, and that was okay by Elaine. That sense of freedom to say anything that came to mind and that sense of improvisation and that sense that there was always a chance of discovery.


We go on, we have splendid lives, we enjoy ourselves, we work hard, people will have successes and failures, it will be as it was before. But without Elaine to commiserate with us or celebrate those events, it is not quite the same.