Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Diasporic Dining XXXXIII: The Running Footman

Somewhere in the December 14, 1970 edition of New York Magazine, mention is made of a restaurant called The Running Footman, located at 133 East 61, only a few blocks from Bloomingdale's. In the same issue you can read pieces like “RFK Freshly Remembered” (Interviews by Jean Stein, edited by George Plimpton) and “Confessions of a Youth Marketeer” by Andrew Tobias. There are reviews of restaurants by Gael Greene, of theater by John Simon and an advertisement for Rober Grimsby and Bill Beutel on Eyewitness News and one for a lost Catskills Institution called The Corcord which reads “Do Your Christmas Shopping Early at the Singles Weekend.”  Farrah, Straus and Giroux advertises Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic & Mau Mauing the Flak Catchers for $5.95. The Running Footman was a creature of its times, a clubby restaurant, with an English hunt scene theme. It occupied a long narrow room presided over by a maitre d' who met you at the top of a small set of stairs which descended into the main dining room. It was the kind of place that was filled with people who looked vaguely familiar and had achieved something short of celebrity status, affluent people who were more prone to being known and respected by those in the industries in which they worked than to the general public. The Running Footman was the vestige of an age in which income inequality of the kind we see today (where middle and upper middle class diners are almost poor compare to hedge fund managers) hadn’t yet reared its ugly head. Thomas Piketty the author of Capital in the 21st Century wasn’t even born. You might have found readers of Vance Packard's The Status Seekers, at The Running Footman. There was a driver named Tiny who was actually huge and fat and who was popular with patrons of The Running Footman. His stretch limo added to the atmosphere of aristocratic entitlement that made the restaurant popular on the Upper East Side of its time.

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