A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 11, 2006
“Where the Elite Meet to Eat” (Duffy’s Tavern)
Duffy's Tavern was the name of a situation comedy radio show that ran from 1941-1951. It was, perhaps, the New York City version of the television situation comedy Cheers ("Where everybody knows your name").

The bartender would answer the phone to Duffy's with its rhyming slogan: "Where the Elite Meet to Eat."

Wikipedia: Duffy's Tavern
Duffy's Tavern was an American radio situation comedy, airing from 1941 to 1951, that often featured top-name stage and film guest stars when not hooking around the misadventures of the title establishment's manager, Archie, played by the writer/actor who created the show, Ed Gardner.

Invariably, the show opened with "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," either solo on an old-sounding piano or by a larger orchestra, interrupted only by a telephone ringing and Gardner's New York-wrapped voice answering, "Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat---Archie the manager speakin', Duffy ain't here . . . oh, hello, Duffy."

The owner was never heard (or seen, when a film based on the show was made in 1945 or when a bid to bring the show to television was tried in 1954), but Archie always was---bantering with Duffy's man-crazy daughter, Miss Duffy (played by several actresses beginning with Gardner's real-life first wife, Shirley Booth); with Eddie, the waiter/janitor (Eddie Green); and, especially, with Clifton Finnegan (Charlie Cantor), a likeable soul with several screws loose and a knack for falling for every other salesman's scam.

Old Time Radio: Duffy's Tavern
Situation Comedy (1940 - 52)
Duffy's Tavern was first heard in 1940 and became a regular feature. It was hailed from the start by critics and whole neighborhoods of working-class listeners alike…a duo that doesn't often see eye-to-eye!
Duffy's Tavern was a place on Third Avenue and 23rd St. in New York City, where the "elite meet to eat, Duffy ain't here, Archie the Manager speakin'…" Anyone who loved old time radio probably knows that phone patter by heart! Ed Gardner played Archie, the manager of Duffy's Tavern, and he was as "real" sounding as any character on radio, as he had grown up in the Big Apple. His use and abuse of language was "exempulary" - the same type of local "parlese" that made The Damon Runyan Theater a favorite with New Yorkers everywhere. Gardner was a theatrical veteran, whose wife, Shirley Booth, well-known stage and screen actress, began on the show with him.

Internet Movie Database
Where the elite meet to eat, 29 November 2004
Author: bkoganbing
Taverns have always been a great source for comedy and drama of all kinds throughout the centuries. You could go all the way back to Shakespeare with Sir John Falstaff and Prince Hal and their boon drinking companions. Or for drama, what better than Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. Or in a lighter vein, William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life.

But Duffy's ain't that kind of a joint. Archie is part bartender, philosopher, with a touch of reprobate in him. We never see Mr. Duffy, but Archie reported in to him by phone several times during a given radio show. The bar is populated with a usual crew of characters who Archie comiserates with once a week. Archie's command of the English language is only equaled by Leo Gorcey's. I'm sure Gorcey must have studied under him.

So Ed Gardiner and Victor Moore set about to get the factory running and the men back to work. They have a master recording of Bing Crosby which should do the trick. A whole bunch of stars including Crosby, are staying at a hotel in New York where Moore's daughter Marjorie Reynolds is a switchboard operator.

If you can't figure the rest of this out, you ain't seen too many films from the forties.

Duffy's Tavern ran for years on radio. Ed Gardiner tried to take it to television, but it didn't succeed there. Strange because so many TV shows like Archie Bunker's Place, Jackie Gleason's Joe the Bartender sketches and George Carlin's show from a few years ago owe the format to what Gardiner did on radio.

A great place Duffy's Tavern, a place where Archie liked to say, "where the elite meet to eat."

6 April 1941, New York Times, "Talk of the Tavern" by George A. Mooney, pg. X10:
The establishment, however, like Duffy himself, is entirely imaginary. Both are the creation of Ed Gardner, radio author and actor, who as Archy is general factotum in Duffy's Tavern, the program heard over WABC Saturdays at 8:30.
Archy, whose voice is a cross between that of an aroused cop and a buzz saw, may be remembered by radio listeners as the toughy first heard a year or so ago in the series "This Is New York." Like his creator he is tall and lanky, with a nervous manner. Astoria-born, Gardner speaks the same pure New Yorkese and has the same respect for culture that makes Archy a unique figure.
As conceived by Gardner, who drinks only milk, Duffy's Tavern ("Where the Elite Meet to Eat") is an old-fashioned, mirrored, and sawdusty place that attracts "mostly ordinary people but a few of the hoi polloi." Duffy himself is never around; Archy just talks to him on the telephone.

23 November 1941, New York Times, "A Salute to Duffy's Tavern, Where the Elite, Including Ed Gardner, Meet" by John K. Hutchens, pg. X12:
To begin with a touch of understatement, it is a wonderful place. It is so fine that when the phone rings every Thursday evening at 8:30 o'clock and Archie the bartender answers with "Duffy's Tavern -- Where the Elite Meet to Eat," you know a moment of paradoxical regret: you would like to find a place like Duffy's Tavern, at the same time that you are aware that, alas, it is too good to be true. There are plenty of acceptable bar-and-grill resorts in this city, but none that measures up to Duffy's, for the fairly simple reason that it represents the best features of each.

Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 041. US 107. G & S: Entertainment Services-Namely, Television and Radio Comedy Shows. FIRST USE: 19491108. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19491108
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Design Search Code
Serial Number 73259140
Filing Date April 21, 1980
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition December 29, 1981
Registration Number 1192655
Registration Date March 23, 1982
Attorney of Record KELLEY DRYE & WARREN
Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date December 28, 2002

Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 042. US 100. G & S: Restaurant Services. FIRST USE: 19480000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19700000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Design Search Code
Serial Number 73399505
Filing Date October 1, 1982
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition September 13, 1983
Registration Number 1260302
Registration Date December 6, 1983
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date April 9, 1990

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Coffeehouses/Food Stores • (0) Comments • Saturday, February 11, 2006 • Permalink