Category Archives: Marilyn Monroe

Schrafft’s and Serendipity

625 Madison Ave. (at 58th Street)

While our mother took us to the finer restaurants where she could see and be seen by fashionable New York dining on her alimony with  her perfectly matched blonde daughters sometimes with an equally fashionable beau in tow, Robbie and I probably ate out more often at Schrafft’s on Madison Avenue (usually with a nanny).  Part of a chain started by the Boston candy company, Shrafft’s was a piece of old New York.  The first had been opened at the turn of the century (when Mother’s spot might have been Delmonico’s) and by World War One they were all over the city.  Schrafft’s was a sort of upscale lunch counter or diner with wonderful cake and it’s own brand of ice cream.  So important was Schrafft’s to the image of New York that it is hard to find a novelist, short story writer, poet or playwright who worked in the city and did not at least mention it or set a scene there.  James Thurber’s meek clerk plots murder there in “The Cat Bird Seat”.  Wallace Shawn mentions it in his elegiac taxi ride monologue in “My Dinner With Andre”.  And of course there’s W.H. Auden’s lovely “In Schrafft’s” which you can see if you follow the link to my friend Tom Beller’s wonderful New York Literary site, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.  

225 East 60th Street

Of course if Mother was with us, dessert or a treat after the park or ice skating would be more likely had at Serendipity.  Opened in the mid-fifties by Stephen Bruce, it was famous and famously frequented by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol from the very beginning.  Our favorite thing was “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” a drink so diabolically good that Jackie Kennedy tried to get the recipe so it could be served at the White House (she couldn’t).  It’s somewhere between a milk shake and iced chocolate–a wonderful kind of chocolate frozen daquiri (without alcohol).  They also served giant hot dogs and other fun things for kids that chic grown-ups like to have.  And the inside was like a 19th century ice cream parlor in neon — what’s not to love?!