Joe Allen, the proprietor of the famed theater-land restaurants that bear his name in New York City and London, has died aged 87. His son, Taylor Lumia, told the New York Times that Allen had died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Hampton, NH. Allen opened the restaurant that bore his name on New York City’s West 46th Street in 1965, and also owned the fancier Orso next door and Bar Centrale above, the latter a smaller cocktail-and-fancy-nibbles space beloved by actors and theater insiders hidden anonymously behind a heavy wooden door and drapes.
Broadway actors, their bullshitting agents and nervous producers—and those wanting to see this colorful flora and fauna in the wild—have long flocked to Joe Allen, where the food, like the eponymous Burger and a green chili and chicken soup, is purely of the comfort variety. As well as star-spotting, “Joe’s” is also known for its exposed brick walls and posters of Broadway flops, a tradition dating back to the year of its opening when, as the restaurant’s website tells it, the cast of the ill-fated show Kelly which ran for only one performance, gave Allen a poster of their show. “Everyone remembers the hits, but we revel in the flops” the restaurant says.
Joe Allen, hit hard by of the pandemic like so many businesses, had reopened in New York City for outdoor dining in October before closing again on December 5 as the virus re-surged and winter exerted its grip. With a typically witty and intimate note to its dedicated customers and staff, the restaurant promised, “We’ll be back. Broadway will be back. Wait for it,” signing off with “All the thanks in the world.”