Elaine Kaufman, Cherished Queen of the Manhattan Restaurant Where Everyone Comes, Has Passed Away

Elaine Kaufman, the ringleader of the beloved Upper East Side restaurant that bore her name, has passed away at the age of 81. For nearly 50 years Elaine’s has served the brightest lights of Manhattan, accepting writers, actors and other unforgettable characters into its arms.

Spencer Morgan profiled Ms. Kaufman for The Observer in 2005. Here, from that article, is just a taste of the tough love that the baroness of her own salon dished out on a nightly basis.

“Longevity takes focus,” said Ms. Kaufman in her most sage mode. She plans to stay the course. You’ll find her at her table, on the cusp of the dining room. There she’ll remain, if only to get up to do the occasional table-hop—harder now with her hip problems—monitoring who gets a good table and who doesn’t, waving on the regulars, tolerating the tourists.

“If you slow down, you fuckin’ die, honey,” Ms. Kaufman said. She’ll be taking a trip to one of the British isles to stay at the mansion house of one of her more interesting friends, but she’ll be hungry to get back and make good on her New Year’s resolution, the same one as last year: “Oh, shit—just enjoy myself.”

She will be missed.

nfreeman [at] observer.com | @nfreeman1234