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.