Beefsteak Charlie’s

If you grew up on Long Island in the 70s, you likely remember a place called Beefsteak Charlie’s. You may never have eaten there, but the constant barrage of commercials on television ensured that you were aware of its existence, and the fact that they wanted to spoil you. Let’s take a look back.

First of all, and in case you didn’t know, there actually was a “Beefsteak Charlie.” His real name was Charles W. Caesar and he was a NYC restaurateur at the turn of the century. His restaurant was notable for its fine cuisine and his original place on Fifteenth Street lasted until 1934. Unfortunately, the only connection between him and what we remember as Beefsteak Charlie is the namesake and the guy on TV with the mustache and black vest.

The chain known as Beefsteak Charlie’s actually came about when another memorable chain called Steak and Brew filed for Chapter 11 in 1975. They renamed their restaurants and found an actor with the right look to appear in advertisements that soon canvased the New York area. They looked something like this:

 

As a result, Beefsteak Charlie’s enjoyed some popularity throughout the remainder of the decade, Their emphasis was on spoiling their customers and feeding them until they were full. To that end, the offered a popular all-you-can-eat shrimp and salad bar. The older crowd will also likely recall the unlimited beer, wine and sangria.

By the end of the 70s, the chain was nearing 60 locations across the east coast. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it too far into the 80s, changing their name to Lifestyle in 1985, and the equally unsuccessful Bombay Palace chain in 1987.

 

Thanks to the power of advertising though, we’ll probably always remember Beefsteak Charlie, a kindly fellow with a moustache that we really didn’t know, but liked just the same.

Did you ever have the pleasure of eating at a Beefsteak Charlie’s restaurant, or do you just remember the commercials? Either way, I’d love to hear your memories of this iconic Long Island 70s restaurant in our comments section below.

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31 Responses

  1. LD says:

    I preferred Cookies Steak Pub in Huntington, My family would go there because not only would you get a great steak but the salad bar had all you can eat peel and eat shrimp.

    also, across the street from there was a chinese reasurant called “the seven seas”, it was one of the first all you can eat chinese food resturants I have ever seen.

  2. Mike says:

    Not only do I remember Steak and Brew but I actually still have one of their menus! It was made of wood and made to look like a chalkboard… Big place for high school kids.

  3. Domenick Marinaro says:

    Was nice to see something about Steak N Brew. I worked at the 5 Towns store in the mid 70s. great fun during my high school years.

  4. Dan says:

    I worked at the Smithaven restaurant when it opened in ’73.
    OMG! Waitresses were hired solely on the basis of how they looked in satin hot pants! Friday nights there would be a 2 hour wait for a table and people would hang out in the cocktail lounge with “me and Mrs. Jones” playing over and over on the juke!!

    • William Maddock says:

      I might have worked there a few nights while you were there…I was a substitute bartender probably in 74 or 75

  5. Rie says:

    In 1079, My sister took me there for dinner when I was 16 so much fun- furst time I had alcohol- had way too much sangria! Food was awesome. Went back many times after. Miss it a lot!

  6. Dan says:

    Ate at one in Buffalo. Food was plentiful and tasty. Atmosphere was top notch. Almost like anyone there was a friend for the evening. Waiter told me the background music was available on iTunes as the Beefsteak Chalie’s Playlist. Best chain restaurant I’ve eaten in.

  7. William Maddock says:

    I worked in the Levittown Steak and Brew as a bartender for 2 years in the early 70’s. I filled in a few times in the Smithaven Mall, Huntington and Bayshore stores. It was a good place to work. After I left it became Beefsteak Charlies. I have kept in touch with 3 of the people that I had worked with there. I would like to hear from any of the other people that worked there…including Diane Chisolm and bartender Wayne Dey.

  8. Don Kisselbach says:

    I was the GM at the Bayshore Beefsteak Charlie’s back in the 80’s. All you could eat Baby Back ribs for 10.99. My staff and I won several awards from the company. One of which I won a 7 day trip to Hawaii for two. I took my Asst. Manager and proposed to her on Waikiki beach in the moon light. Still happily married! I will always have fond memories of BSC and Long Island.

    • Sandy says:

      Wow we lived in Bay Shore from 1976-1984 and frequented that restaurant. Loved the food, price and service. It feels like a million years ago

    • James Schlesier says:

      Grew up in Bay Shore. We loved that place. All you can eat Baby back ribs were killer. Miss places like that…brings back some great memories with friends and family. Thanks for helping make those memories Mr.GM

    • johnny says:

      used to dine and dash there in Roosevelt field

  9. Jordan says:

    I was looking at an old T.V. show and was reminded of this wonderful restaurant that we would frequent as kid’s. Such very good memories!! Long Island and Beefsteak Charlies!

  10. D.schnepp says:

    We loved beefsteak charlies (my girl friend,i,&,and our friends went to the one in Bay shore. What fun times!!

  11. Charlie Bebber says:

    WOW, I was at the Huntington Store from 1977 til they closed in 1990. Great times with great people, many still friends that we keep in touch with. Hope to hear from more. Remember softball, Halloweens, the Back Door (Back Door runs), and the locker room.

  12. Mike M. says:

    When I would come home on leave from the USAF in the early 80’s would go to Cookies Steak Pub with my two brothers. What a great time, salad bar, huge steak and the desert bar fantastic. We had such a good time eating and drinking beer.

  13. Chris Lindsay R.N. says:

    Yes I surely do remember Beefsteak Charlies. My X husband and I enjoyed going to the one located near Austin St. in Forest Hills, Queens. We went weekly and had the all you could eat shrimp and the best salad bar I ever had….. along with either a pitcher of beer or the Sangria. Those were great times. When my marriage was good……This was a restaurant I wish would return, because the food was terrific and did not cost a fortune. Sure wish someone would bring it to Bradenton, Florida where I now live……:

  14. Dave Bush says:

    Grow up in mineola we use to go to the Hempstead and the Garden city store all the time we were seniors in high school , in apox 83 or 84 I met beef steak on a promotional trip in Ft lauderdale we got drunk together his body guards didn’t like me I was asking all the wrong questions they escorted me out had a great night it was the end of beef steak if I remember right he was a real butcher

  15. Anonymous says:

    Used to take my girl to beefsteak Charlie’s every weekend. We loved the place. Always left with a buzz. I’m still wth her 36 yrs later.

  16. Karen says:

    Loved BSC’s. Spent many nights eating shrimp and taking advantage of all the beer wine and sangria you could drink. Hic! The Carle Place Long Island Charlie’s was the place to be after work on a Friday night.

  17. Charles Fleury says:

    Todd Rungren immortalizes the chain in a song affectionately known as ” Hamburger Hell”

  18. Dan S. says:

    I was just munching on some Shrimp Cocktail we had purchased for New Years and I starting talking about Beefsteak Charlie’s. I searched the internet and watched the late 70’s commercial and stumbled upon this site. When I moved to Harrisburg, PA back in early 80’s there was a Beefsteak Charlie’s at what we now call The Point Mall. The building is still there but it has expanded into a small strip mall. What used to be Beefsteak Charlie’s has gone through several transformations including The Lone Star Steakhouse and no Infinito’s Pizza. Oh, the memories!

  19. Kev says:

    I was i dishwasher,salad porter, and waiter at beefsteaks in the forest hills in for years from 78 to 83 then off and on until until it closed i want to ask do anyone who went to forest hills remember Abraham god bless the bartender he was the best all the people who worked there and lived in the inn and do anyone remember Annie’s the bar down stairs we leave work and party there all night great time they had Mike and the tornado’s band rocking until 4am leave there the super in the inn made a bar in the basement and party there until 7am go home the next night do it all over again lol great times !!

  20. Greg Dohrman says:

    I do remember Steak and Brew and Beef Stake Charlies. I and some friends ate at both several times. They were the best!

  21. Andrew A. Fernandez Jr. says:

    i also have steak and shake which is really a hamburger joint.

  22. Scott S says:

    Worked at the Merrick Beefsteak Charlies for 7 yrs (77-84). I was up until the last day when they closed. What great memories.
    Had a blast.

  23. brian says:

    my long island lifeguard crew would go there, order 20 burgers, pre-tip the waitress, and then drink beer until we had to be wheeled out. we became so notorious that they wouldn’t take our reservation . No problem: would call it in as the Chaminade bowling team, and got seated every time.

  24. Sarah B. says:

    Used to love the GIANT martini glass with the blue drink!! Shared many a lunch with my friend.

  25. Joe says:

    I remember eating at a Beefsteak Charlie’s in the Queen’s Center Mall. I remember it as having good food, and they did give you that all you can eat shrimp, which you had to peel and clean.

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