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Warner LeRoy's Maxwell's Plum

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Here is an interesting article from a site on Maxwell's Plum restaurant:

History of Maxwell’s Plum

1181 First Avenue (at 64th Street),


Maxwell's Plum, the flamboyant restaurant and singles bar that, more than any place of its kind, symbolized two social revolutions of the 1960's - sex and food Warner LeRoy, was the owner of the 22-year-old establishment on First Avenue at 64th Street, likened its demise to that of an affair that had gone on too long, in the end losing its spontaneity and adventure.


Maxwell's Plum opened in April 1966, at a time when largely residential First Avenue was undergoing a commercial boom of restaurants and nightclubs. The restaurant's outlandish Art Nouveau decor - kaleidoscopic stained-glass ceilings and walls, Tiffany lamps galore, a menagerie of ceramic animals, etched glass and cascades of crystal - was an immediate hit, and before long it was serving more than 1,200 customers a day. Habitues included such celebrities as Richard Rodgers, Cary Grant, Bill Blass, Barbra Streisand and Warren Beatty. The sprawling bar became a favorite watering hole for the ''swinging singles'' set.


Mr. LeRoy, the son of famed Hollywood film producer Mervyn LeRoy, was no less theatrical than his restaurant. He paraded around the dining room, his 230-pound frame enveloped in screaming paisley-patterned suits. In fact, it was at Maxwell's Plum in the late 1960's that Mr. LeRoy met an airline stewardess named Kay O'Reilly, whom he eventually married.


In the early 1970's, Maxwell's Plum received four stars, the Times's highest rating, from Craig Claiborne, the newspaper's food critic. The wide-ranging menu featured everything from hamburgers and chili con carne to Iranian caviar and stuffed squab. In the last 10 years, its Times rating slipped to one star, then went back to two. Since 1985, the 175-seat Restaurant has suffered an identity crisis as chefs came and went and the menu lurched from traditional American to flashy California cuisine, then to continental, Pacific Northwestern and French. Revolving Door of Chefs


In 1985, Mr. LeRoy recruited two leading California chefs, the husband-and-wife team of Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton, both from Spago, the influential California-style restaurant in Los Angeles. They lasted less than a year. In 1987, a young star from Seattle, Kathy Casey, was brought East to transplant her eccentric interpretation of Pacific Northwestern cooking. She lasted only three weeks, shortly after she tried serving triangular hamburgers to tradition-bound Maxwell regulars. The latest casualty is Geoffrey Zakarian, an alumnus of Le Cirque and the ''21'' Club, who began in April of this year.


“A restaurant is a fantasy—a kind of living fantasy in which diners are the most important members of the cast.” Warner Leroy


And below is an "interesting" postcard from the restaurant:


Front of Card:

Postcard image is rated PG-13. Click SHOW to see it.





Back of Card:


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That's the most I've ever heard about Maxwell's Plum (though apparently it was really THE place to be in the 70's for a while). I've always been frustrated that there wasn't more written about it and there seem to be no photos online either. That and Warner's restaurant in DC that seems to have been short-lived.


I wish his daughters would write a book about him.

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