NEW YORK — Elaine’s is shutting its doors.
For decades, Elaine Kaufman held court at the restaurant bearing her name with a hand-picked selection of favorite regulars, literary luminaries, and celebrities.
After Kaufman died in December, longtime manager Diane Becker inherited the restaurant. She announced yesterday that the Upper East Side restaurant will shut its doors for good on May 26.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,’’ Becker said in a statement yesterday. “But the truth is, there is no Elaine’s without Elaine.’’
The place is filled with history, both real and imaginary.
Woody Allen opened his movie “Manhattan’’ with a scene set there. Billy Joel immortalized it in the song “Big Shot.’’ Stuart Woods, author of dozens of popular mysteries, begins almost every book with his hero having dinner at Elaine’s.
“I’m flabbergasted’’ about the closing, said Woods, whose new book, “Bel-Air Dead,’’ is dedicated to Elaine. “I was there last Friday and Sunday nights, and there was a very good crowd.’’
Kaufman had a soft spot for writers who were trying to make it big, and she often let them eat for free. Among those who did make it big were Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, and Gay Talese. Eventually, they paid her back.
She was known as an exceptional listener, with patrons and friends typically sticking around until the early-morning hours.