Toffenetti’s, the "Cathedral of All Restaurants," at the corner of Broadway and 43rd, "where glamour sparkles forever," opened in 1940, serving an astounding 8,500 meals in its first day. Established by Austrian immigrant Dario Louis Toffenetti, the restaurant became a staple in Times Square for nearly 30 years.
The restaurant offered elaborate descriptors for his menu items. Ham was “Roast Sugar Cured Ham” with accompanying copy, a la “These hams are cut from healthy young hogs grown in the sunshine on beautifully rolling Wisconsin farms, where corn, barley, milk and acorns are unstintingly fed to them, producing that silken meat so rich in wonderful flavor.”
His potatoes were “bulging beauties, grown in the ashes of extinct volcanoes, scrubbed and washed, then baked in a whirlwind of tempestuous fire until the shell crackles with brittleness.”
I am sure an 1,000 seat restaurant in 1940 was probably a heck of a big deal.
Dario Toffenetti died of a stroke in 1962, at the age of 72. At the time of his death, he operated six restaurants in Chicago, a hotel and restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the masive location in Times Square. His son continued to run the empire after his death. But in 1968, Dario Jr. sold the building that housed the Times Square restaurant to Robert Miller and Louis Lefkowitz, who owned the Globe Theater down the block. Toffenetti got $3 million out of the deal.
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