Friday, March 11, 2011

Brooklyn Retro Ad: Gage And Tollner

Gage& Tollner Ad

This late 1950's advertisement for two pound lobsters at the former Gage and Tollner restaurant at 374 Fulton Street features none other than President Dwight D. Eisenhower. No idea if "Ike" ever dined at the famous eatery, or if he ordered lobster, but it makes for a great ad.
The gas-lit landmark restaurant opened at the Fulton Street location in 1892 and stayed open under various owners. In 2004, Gage and Tollner finally closed for business under then owner Joe Chirico.
It subsequently became a short-lived TGI Fridays and, for just one year, an Arby's. Thankfully, the Landmark's Commission designated this famous restaurant a landmark, so that its interior has been preserved.

I only ate at the restaurant once in the early 1990's, shortly before it closed for good. It was Thanksgiving and my kids were still very small. I do remember them being mightily impressed by the 36 flickering gas lights.
Do you have any memories of the place that you would like to share with everyone?


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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I started going to G&T in the '70s under the old, old management. I'm not sure what made you think the ad features Eisenhower. Back before Chirico owned it, waiters were still wearing the same style uniforms from the 1890s and there were military type stripes and stars on their sleeves to indicate their rank and how many years the waiter worked there - and there were many in at least their third and fourth decade working there. Every one was a black man, as it was when the restaurant opened. They were elegant and attentive and knew their business. The head waiter played the piano. Definitely it's own culture. From what I understood, it was the original menu was from 1890s as well. My favs were oysters in milk with hot crispy corn fritters (syrup on the side) and an ice cold dry gin martini.

Katia said...

Thanks so much, Anon, for sharing your memories. The oysters and ice cold gin martini sounds amazing.
Lets hope that the place will re-open again as a proper restaurant, not as a fast food chain.
And thanks for clarifying the uniform. I guess I saw the Ike and the uniform and presumed it was Dwight E.
Cool that G&T waiters wore military uniforms. I don't remember those when I was there in the early 90's.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't look anything like Ike!
Anyway. I ate there for my birthday with a friend.
I remember the downstairs dining room was a real
time capsule. The upstairs was brightly lit and tacky.
I think people were smoking. My friend had cold ham dish.
I don't remember what I had. It was during that female chefs time. Can't remember her name. Anyway the service
was terrible. It was sad but we loved seeing the inside.

Katia said...

I think that place was cruising less on the quality of the food than on the old interior for a long time.

Anonymous said...

That interior was just like an old photograph. The ham was supposed to be cold but we didn't realize it. I think it was so dark inside we couldn't really read the menu or the waiter neglected, among other
things, to tell us. I was the one who really wanted to go because I'm the Lost New York person not my friend.
On 13th St in the city I still remember seeing the old shell of Luchow's. You could still see the name but the building was almost gone. I think that and a photo in one of my Brooklyn in Old Photographs books prompted me to go, good or bad. The Old Delmonicos is another thing. And The Original Russian Tea Room. Thankfully in Tootsie its preserved on celluloid. Tho The second Delmonico building is still there down near William St.

Katia said...

In my mother's hometown in Germany, there is a restaurant that has been open since 1304 and in Madrid, I ate at the oldest restaurant in the city. It has been in business since 1725.
There is a sense of history and pride that these cities feel for those places.
It's sad that so many of New York's great restaurants with their period decor have closed or vanished altogether.

Anonymous said...

Great post, but (as others have said) there's no way this Ike can have anything to do with the President -- the graphics are way pre-50s (like maybe mid-20s-early-40s?), and the general was a 5-star. I assume the Ike here was the headwaiter of the day and that this was his actual uniform. I often walk past the place and sigh. Surely someone must be able to make something of it?

Anonymous said...

bares some resemblance to Forbes. the son.
The owners of G&T used to live in the apartment upstairs above the restaurant. As I remember it, they were 2nd or 3rd generation owners who eventually sold to whomever took over. I used to see the husband at the YWCA on Atlantic/3rd avenue.
I would guess early 80's is when sold and they probably moved.

Anonymous said...

Gage and Tollners was owned by Trudy and Ed Dewey who sold the business in the 80s or the early 90s. The Dewey's were friends of my parents and I remember visiting their beautiful apartment which was right above G&T. Ed Dewey was an avid marathon runner who ran the NY Marathon more than once.

Katia said...

I would love to hear more about Trudy and Ed, if you feel like sharing some more memories.