From ArticleWorld

Known for the hundreds of caricatures of show-business celebrities that adorn its walls inside, Sardi’s opened at its current location on March 5, 1927.


In the beginning

Vincent Sardi (December 23, 1885 - November 19, 1969) and his dear wife Eugenia (Jenny) opened their first restaurant, called “The Little Restaurant”, at 146 West 44th Street in 1921. When that building was slated for demolition in 1926, they accepted an offer from the theater magnate Shubert brothers to relocate to a new building the brothers were erecting down the block.

New gimmick

When business slowed after the move to the new location, Vincent Sardi was looking for a gimmick to draw in the customers. Remembering the movie-star caricatures that decorated the walls of Joe Zelli’s, a Parisian restaurant and jazz club, Sardi decided to recreate that effect in his restaurant.

He hired a Russian refugee named Alex Gard (born Alexis Kremkoff in Kazan, Russia) to do various drawings of Broadway celebrities. Sardi and Gard drew up a contract which stated that Gard would make the caricatures in exchange for one meal per day at the restaurant.

His first official caricature was of Ted Healy, the vaudevillian of Three Stooges fame. When Sardi’s son, Vincent Jr., took over restaurant operations in 1947, he offered to change the terms of Gard's agreement. Gard refused, and continued to draw the caricatures in exchange for meals until his eventual death.

Cheese club

Frequent mentions of the restaurant in newspaper columns by Walter Winchell and Ward Morehouse added to Sardi’s growing popularity. Winchell and Morehouse were members of a group of newspaper journalists, press agents, and drama critics that met for lunch regularly at Sardi’s and referred to themselves as the "Cheese Club."

Mark Hellinger, Heywood Broun, George Jessel, Ring Lardner, and cartoonist/press agent Irving Hoffman were also members of the Cheese Club. In fact, it was Hoffman who first brought Alex Gard to Sardi's for lunch at the Cheese Club table. Gard drew caricatures of the Cheese Club members, and Vincent Sardi hung them above their table. It was then that Sardi recalled the drawings at Zelli's and made his deal with Gard.

The restaurant became known as a pre/post theater hang-out, as well as a location for opening night parties. Vincent Sardi, an avid theater lover, kept the restaurant open for much later than others in the area to accommodate the schedules of Broadway performers.


While the Sardi family was Italian, the cuisine of their restaurant is not; rather it tends toward "English food", a continental menu. In 1957, Vincent Sardi, Jr. collaborated with Helen Bryson to compile a cookbook of Sardi's recipes. "Curtain Up at Sardi's" contained close to 300 recipes ranging from grilled cheese sandwich to champagne cocktail.

Currently, there are over 1,300 celebrity caricatures on display at Sardi's.