P.J. Clarke's Fun Facts and History (aka Why I Love P.J. Clarke's):
The Lost Weekend - In director Billy Wilder's 1945 classic film about an alcoholic writer, the main character, played by Ray Milland, spends part of his weekend-long bender at Nat's Bar on Third Avenue (actually P.J. Clarke's). Charles R. Jackson, the author of the semi-autobiographical novel upon which the film was based was a P.J. Clarke's regular.
Nat "King" Cole - In the late 1950's (exact date is lost to the mists of time) the legendary singer said that P.J. Clarke's bacon cheeseburger was the "Cadillac of burgers". To this day, P.J. Clarke's menu lists their bacon cheeseburger as "The Cadillac".
Buddy Holly - One night in the summer of 1958, Buddy Holly proposed to his future wife over dinner at P.J. Clarke's . No, her name wasn't Peggy Sue, it was Maria Elena (which is also the title of a song, but not one by Buddy).
Ernie and Ethel - In 1964, Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman announced their engagement at P.J. Clarke's. They were married on June 26, 1964 and divorced 32 days later.
More Frank - Whenever he was bar hopping in Manhattan, Frank Sinatra would always end the evening at P.J. Clarke's where he was known as the "owner" of Table 20.
Richard Harris' Usual - When visiting NY, the Irish actor's first stop was PJ Clarke's. "I adore the hamburgers," he told an interviewer. During his drinking days, Harris would request "the usual" and Vinny, his regular bartender, would line up six double vodkas.
There you have it, lost weekends, bacon cheeseburgers, torch songs and giant urinals. This venerable establishment was bought by a consortium of investors in 2002 and since then several other locations have opened (hoping to cash in on the name no doubt; one more example of the "branding" of American Icons). It has been years since I last stepped over it's threshold, but I doubt I'll visit it the next time I'm in Manhattan. I suspect it will bear little resemblance to the P.J. Clarke's of my youth; some things are best left to memory.
...so make it one for my baby, and one more for the road, that long, long, road.