John’s of 12 Street Restaurant-NYC Pt 1

September21

Our temporary neighbourhood of Gramercy/Flatiron once again yielded another fabulous restaurant find-John’s of 12th St.  Not what one would call trendy, fashionable or even up-to-date but a fascinating walk into urban history.

Not John's-Il Tempio del Gusto at the Segesta, Sicily Train Station

I couldn’t get an interior photo of John’s so I’ve included this one of Il Tempio del Gusto in Suggesta Sicily just for fun.

Original owner John Pucciatti moved from his village in Umbria, Italy to the Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1908.  At that time this neighbourhood was a classic melting pot of Italians on 1st, Jewish immigrants on 2nd and Germans surrounding Tompkins Square Park.  Butch Cassidy and Sundance were said to have lived in a rooming house down the block.

Mosaic wainscoting was shipped from Belgium and John resourcefully paid a local artist in free meals for the paintings that still hang on the walls.  So too, the mirrors that line the interior are all original.

During prohibition in the 20’s,  drinkers were sent via a hidden staircase to less conspicuous family quarters upstairs.  To John’s delight,  business boomed but he was still thrilled when the repeal was announced and they were legal again. To celebrate,  he ceremoniously lit a candle and continued to do so for years to come; a tradition maintained to this day by a third set of owners.  The wax –laden shrine is in the rear of the dining room.

Kath’s quote:  “It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.”-P. G. Wodehouse


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