The food at Sardis is okay, but the reason you really go there is for a piece of Broadway memorabilia.
Sardis was opened in 1927 by Vincent Sardi himself. As a gimmick to bring people into the restaurant, he hired artist Alex Gard to draw Broadway celebrities in exchange for one meal a day at the restaurant.
The first official caricature was of Ted Healy of Three Stooges fame, and with that, Sardis become a Broadway institution with theatre folks. Nearly 20 years later when Sardi’s son took over operations, he offered to change the terms of Gard’s agreement but Gard refused and continued to draw the caricatures in exchange for meals until his death. The tradition continues, and there are currently more than 1,300 celebrity caricatures on display.
The drawings have become as famous as the celebrities themselves. On the day Jimmy Cagney died, his caricature was stolen from the wall. Since then, the originals go into a vault and two copies are made. One goes to the celebrity, the other up on the Sardis wall.
Sardis 234 West 44th Street New York, NY 10036