Martell’s Restaurant

Martell’s Restaurant
1469 3rd Avenue
New York City of My Youth

I can not even find a photo of Martell’s Restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan — the blue-and-white striped awning, the tile floors, blue-and-white checked tablecloths, big burgers and fat fries.  Martell’s was a bridge from the old joints of New York City with their pyramids of hard boiled eggs on the bar, sawdust on the floor and the faint and not-so-faint smell of beer and piss mixed with the grease from a thousand burgers and the new places that hit town in the 70s and began the shift into the world of TGIFridays.

When we didn’t go out for fancy food or to Schrafft’s  with our nanny, we went to Martell’s — our version of McDonald’s (with wine for Mother).  When I returned to New York many years later, I’d go back to Martell’s on occasion for a big bourbon and a plate of French fries — once with my step-sister (Oliver’s daughter) when our worlds and our lives re-collided.

12 thoughts on “Martell’s Restaurant

  1. Martell’s was my old neighborhood hangout in the late 70s to the mid 80s when I moved to the Village. I have a postcard of Martell’s during the big snow in 1978 that the owner gave me back in the day.

  2. I was there for many a night as I lived in the neighborhood. I knew Ronnie Martell, he owned the joint, the last owner. He lived on the top floor of the building and played drums. I was there the night John Lennon was shot. It was on the news andI broke out in tears . I’ve had a hell of a life.

  3. I lived on East 81st Street from 10-82 until 7-83. I went to Martell’s every time a Miami Dolphins game was on TV. There was a huge brandy snifter on a shelf behind the bar. I always sat at the bar and ordered a Stinger in that snifter every time and finished it by the time the game was over. I loved Martell’s and, as a single woman, always felt safe and comfortable there. Those were the days for sure!

    1. The Stingers
      That was the name of Martell’s softball team as well
      When I think of Martell’s I think of good times
      I’ve heard a lot of story’s & they ALL ended with a laugh

  4. Martell’s was one of my most favourite places, too. I lived in Manhattan for nearly four years when I was in my 20s (now 74!) and used to drink rather too much then. So one night as I staggered out, I fell into one of the dustbins outside….and was promptly rescued by the staff.
    Fabulous guys. Last time I visited Manhattan, about 7 yrs ago, I went past it and dropped in to tell them about the incident. They promptly insisted on treating me to a glass of wine.
    How sad it no longer exists.

    1. Pardon my slow response, Steph. What a terrific story! It’s sad that it’s no longer there, but how lucky were we to live in that time-capsule New York that no longer exists. Magical. Thanks for writing to me.
      Cheers, Wendy

  5. I lived on 84th Street between Lex and 3rd. I met and married my husband , John Kavanagh , in Manhattan. We had many splendid times in Martells. What fun ! And the stingers were fantastic !

    1. That’s funny! I was too young at the time to have a stinger, so I’ll take your word for it. Thanks for commenting! Cheers, Wendy

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