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.
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.
OMG Cookies!! LOVED them!
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.
That’s awesome. 🙂
I remember a meal they had called “meal fit for a king”, a big plate of chicken & steak???…& Of course all the beer, wine & sangria to drink…I even took a couple wine glasses home in my purse, lol
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.
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!!
I might have worked there a few nights while you were there…I was a substitute bartender probably in 74 or 75
I also worked there when it opened in early 73….I started out bussing tables and later on as a waiter…. Do you remember Mr Brower, Bill Fuhrman,Ron Stout or Dick McKenna? Were you the opening bartender there?….I remember George (Sandlof ? ) who tended bar also… There was also Jeremy and Diane, John Stathis, Tony the cook,AlBob,Mike ,Frank,Bob and Claire Stephan’s later on…… lots of good memories
Hey I worked there when I turned 16 in ‘78! The only name that rings a bell is George Sandlof. Worked with him for sure! Great place to work as a teen!
Oh and Tony the cook. I think his last name was Cortez! Great guy!
I remember Bill Fuhrman well, He had a nervous breakdown on the floor of the Carle Place store. We had to call the cops.He was screaming “Screw Larry Ellman!” and kicking chairs and †ables all around the restaurant.When the cops came,Fuhrman said “Go to Jay the waiters locker, he all ways has good weed, thats all I need to calm down. Needles to say, Jay wasn’t to happy with Bill. We never saw him again
Bill furman was my manager at beefsteak charlies in bayshore circa 1977
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!
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.
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.
I grew up in Levittown, I’m certain we went to that Steak And Brew several times in the early to mid 70s, and then Beefsteak Charlies which I believe both were situated in the original Nassau Mall on Hempstead Tpke. I recall enjoying both places, particularly later the famed kids Beefsteak Charlie’s two burgers in a basket meal that they featured. So great. I recall going to Steak and Brew a bit earlier as a kid with family visiting from Queens or wherever. This must’ve been circa 1973-75 or so.
I worked there too! Diane was a sweetheart
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.
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
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
used to dine and dash there in Roosevelt field
Don!!!!! Harry Mazza here! How are you and Sherri? It’s been a very long Time. Those were the days my friend! 300 cover and 1 Cook! On a week night!!!!
Hey not sure if I knew you but your name sounds familiar. I remember 600 covers on a Sunday (kids eat free) it was a madhouse!
That was at the Smithhaven mall!
That was at the Smithhaven BC’s
Don and Sherri?! Those were the days!
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!
We loved beefsteak charlies (my girl friend,i,&,and our friends went to the one in Bay shore. What fun times!!
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.
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.
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……:
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
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.
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.
Todd Rungren immortalizes the chain in a song affectionately known as ” Hamburger Hell”
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!
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 !!
My father built Annie’s. He was also the superintendent of the Forest Hills Inn. His name was Pete, sadly he passed in 1981.
I do remember Steak and Brew and Beef Stake Charlies. I and some friends ate at both several times. They were the best!
i also have steak and shake which is really a hamburger joint.
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.
then you know Paul Mazza!
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.
Used to love the GIANT martini glass with the blue drink!! Shared many a lunch with my friend.
Was that drink the blue gardenia?
Was that drink the blue gardenia?
Were those drinks called Blue Gardenias?
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.
Used to go to the one in Carle Place before heading to the Islander games. Beef ribs instead of the usual pork ribs you get everywhere.
I ate at the Beefsteak Charlie’s in Manhattan often. Great food, good atmosphere, and a good time! I wish they would bring BSC back!
Worked for Beefsteak Charlies for about 10 years. Started in Fl.and ended up in Metro NY. Great place to work and work hard we did. Unfortunately, the concept became outdated as the All you can drink part became a huge liability. Best Baby Back ribs in the world!!!!! Fond memories of people I worked with and our guests!
did you work at the carle place location?
I managed it for a few years before becoming a district supervisor. That place was always busy… Great group of people to work with! Who’s asking?
I worked at steak n brew in ’71. Had fun there. Loved the nautical low light atmosphere.
I was a manager at both the Levittown and Smithtown locations in the mid-late 80’s. We had Great crews at both stores (especially the Levittown store). Both locations ran in the black when I was there- making money for the Co., I guess upper management didn’t do their part, or simply, the chain ran its course. I remember a Jim Mazza at Levittown location, (I believe Harrys brother) Great ribs!! Lots of fun-watched 86 Mets-Red sox game at the bar, ball under Buckner’s legs with bartender “Bob”.
Crazy bachelor parties there on weekends.
We used to chase down ‘dine and dashers”…haha- sometimes we catch, sometimes not. Lots of fond, fun memories of all that worked there!
Lol. I watched that same game at the Smithhaven bar!
JB?… Wish I knew your name. I would have Had to know you those years…It was Paul Mazza that was the GM in Levittown around that time. I also had a brother named Tom who worked for the company longer than I did. He supervised in Fl., Connecticut and eventually Long Island. Lou Bolkovic was also around in those years. What a great time it was!!! Anyone hear what happened to Bob Lear from the Brooklyn store????
I was General Manager at Beefsteak Charlies in Smithhaven Mall around late 80’s. Had a great team I worked with.
Specifically remember a family that came in and emptied the shrimp onto their plate and kids ate free
Specifically remember a family that came in and emptied the shrimp onto their plate and kids ate free
My mom found a purse with 2,500 in it. We gave it to the manager. This place was a weekend place to eat.
Remember Wuvs? I frequented the Huntington Station location as a kid. I vividly recall the cedar wood smell when entering the restaurant
I remember the one in Green Acres Mall.
Throwback! My cousins and I were just discussing last week! We remember piling into my uncles car and driving from Elizabeth to system island. The all u can eat shrimp was a big event. We kids would eat them play video games until the parents were done with dinner. Great memories
We used to go to Steak & Brew in Bay Shore in 1970. I celebrated my 18th birthday there when my Dad told me to drive home because he had too much beer. The restaurant located at the end of 5th avenue, right before Bengjes beach in Bay Shore, NY. Not long after the restaurant was renamed Beefsteak Charlies’s and we continued to go there, because they had the best deals and the best cocktail sauce.
The beer wasn’t the best, but there were free refills. We loved that place.
Yes ! …I loved it and ate there often in the late 1970’s in my early 20’s,right through the mid 80’s as a young man.Who didn’t love the “Beefsteak Charlie’s” restaurant chain starting in the late disco 70’s ? Originally opened in 1976,there was one in Georgetown, Brooklyn,off Ralph Avenue, and one in New Springville on Staten Island,off Richmond Avenue.They were great ! Big pitchers of Sangria,wine or beer with your meal,….endless peel & eat shrimp ,huge Caesar salads, fully-stocked salad-bars, big, juicy charbroiled steaks,baby-back ribs,barbecued chicken, and huge,succulent burgers. The food was good and plentiful and very reasonably priced ! The chain went under in 1987 and was a consummate reminder of the 1980’s and the conspicuous consumption that existed in those years.
We lived in East Meadow, NY (Long Island) from 1978-1980 and went to the Beefsteak Charlie’s frequently in Merrick, NY near the intersection of Merrick Blvd. and Rte 27 Sunrise Highway. Loved the restaurant ; but mentioned to my wife very early that I didn’t know how they could survive with the unlimited shrimp and salad bar along with the bottomless pitchers of beer, wine, and Sangria. On more than one occasion, I witnessed people stuffing plastic sandwich bags of steamed shrimp into their jacket pockets. 1-2 pounds of shrimp !! The staff didn’t seem to care …. I didn’t see how the company could survive with the reasonable prices for steaks and the amount of Free stuff being carried out in pockets of unscrupulous diners. A ridiculous business model that boRdered on craziness. We enjoyed Beefsateak Charlie’s immensely; but any business that charges $20.00 for dinner and then gives away $40.00 worth of food won’t last and didn’t. I am surprised that they lasted 10 years losing money on every customer. Damn shame, too !! It was a very nice restaurant.
Tom Mazza and Lou Bolkovic were great guys!
I loved Beefsteak Charlie’s. My friends from HS and I would go there all the time. Then when I went off to college it was the place I would bring my visitors to NY to both on LI and in NYC before a show. It was my favorite restaurant at the time.
My dad just passed away at age 80 but one of my fondest memories (along with my siblings) was going to Beef steak Charlies. Living in Queens, I believe the only one was in Forrest Hills. The unlimited beer and kids eat free menu was a hit for adults and kids alike.
Many great memories with dad taking us all there
Who remembers the “blue gardenia” cocktail in a huge glass with straws for the whole table? We went to the s&b in bay shore.
LOL. A buddy and I used to go there regularly. They lost a LOT of money on us with the all-you-can-eat shrimp. We were even asked (told) to leave one night by a manager who’d seen about enough. Absolutely couldn’t blame her!
I used to go to steak and brew in ct and ny. I still have a menu from one. it was on a chalk board, the prices were very reasonable at the time and would be a lot more today. getting unlimited beer and wine would never be aloud today.
Went to Beefsteak Charlie in Frederick MD! Was in the Mall. Anyone remember that one?
Tes I did in forest hills queens ny
I grew up in northcentral PA and got NY and NJ tv stations. I remember BSC’s commercial jingle: “Everybody’s goin’ to Beefsteak Charlie’s, the place to have a good old time!” but haven’t seen that ad online.
Memorialized by SNL in their Pre-Chewed Charlie’s and Troff ‘n’ Brew.
One even (somehow) made its way up to Albany for a time. Not sure that we ever went to that one, but I do remember going to one in NYC (Manhattan, that is) at some point.
Well we had one in East Hartford Connecticut at the time I was married in 1980 with our first child. We had these St Charles right around the corner very close to Pratt Whitney Airport also right around the corner with Jack August another fine eating restaurant right near the theater me and my family enjoyed eating at the Saint Charlie’s for quite a few years if I remember right at least maybe four I think it ended in 85 we always enjoyed the steak shrimp the salad bar and the people were always nice there it was fun going there we had a great time William.