On Monday, Sept. 30, Sardi's Restaurant, perhaps the restaurant most associated with Broadway theatre, will celebrate its 75th birthday in an old-fashioned way: the menu will feature dishes (and prices) that commemorate meals served at the restaurant back when they opened in 1921.
Diners will find among the gustatory delights Katharine Cornell salad, chicken chow mein, spaghetti with meat sauce, and deviled roast beef bones. Max Klimavicius, part-owner of the restaurant with founder Vincent Sardi, explains that the cooks used to take the bones out of prime rib because they still had some meat on them. They were then covered with breadcrumbs, cooked, and served with fra diavolo sauce. This delicacy will sell at the celebration for a whopping 35 cents (the spaghetti is only 20).
Sardi and Klimavicius have much to celebrate. In 1986, Sardi sold the franchise to outside investors who went bankrupt four years later. The restaurant was back in business in Nov. 1990, its two public dining rooms and two private floors catering to a throng theatre people and theatregoers.
Klimavicius doesn't know what the first cast party Sardi's hosted was ("it was in the 30's"), although he does say the most recent was for Albee's A Delicate Balance. "Usually the cast parties are in other places, but the actors will come to Sardi's before or after for cocktails."
"There's a funny story," Klimavicius continues, "about when Richard Chamberlain was doing My Fair Lady. The cast party was at Tavern On The Green, but he was having so much fun at Sardi's he never showed up. He ended up sending the producers a letter on Sardi's stationery to prove he didn't disappear!" Sardi's is certainly in no danger of disappearing. As if to prove it's moving into the 21st century, the restaurant even has its own website -- http://www.sardis.com , though people wanting to make a reservation for dinner can still use the old-fangled telephone number, (212)221-8440.
As Max Klimavicius noted, "Sardi's carries a certain tradition, one that epitomizes Broadway."
-- By David Lefkowitz