The last Seinfeld episode aired on May 14, 1998. Yet the show today is just as popular and lucrative as ever, with Netflix throwing down $160 million for the global streaming rights beginning in 2021 after Hulu spent that same amount for their 6-year deal in 2015.
The show about nothing certainly means something to a lot of people, with the beautiful Upper West Side serving as backdrop to some of the most iconic comedy in history. Let’s get some pretzels and something to drink as we showcase the famous businesses and locations that can still be found around the neighborhood today (whether in their original forms and locations or not). You’ll also find a few locations just south of the UWS border which we felt were worthy of mentions.
La Boite en Bois
La Boît en Bois, makers of the famous risotto George came up short against in bed. Fortunately, a mango from Joe’s gives him the B-12 shot he needs to redeem himself. Only now he’s doubting the performance of his girlfriend, which leads to his getting thrown out of bed, literally. Relationship over.
This risotto has caused so much drama that they took it off the menu. I recommend the Fish Stew of Monk Fish, Cod Fish, Shrimp, Scallops & Muscles.
That kick to the head Crazy Joe Davola lands on Kramer may have had long term repercussions.
Later in season 4, Kramer is waiting in line with George and Elaine at the Paragon Theater on the Upper West Side, when he says “I don’t want to get a movie hot dog, I want a Papaya King hot dog.”
Alas, there is no Papaya King on the Upper West Side, leaving Gray’s Papaya the only realistic papaya option.
Despite Kramer’s questionable mental state, he is the only one who makes it to the movie they planned to see. Checkmate.
West Side YMCA
5 West 63rd Street, between Columbus and Central Park West
Jerry meets Keith Hernandez, George is a chucker and Kramer sneaks a peak.
Mr. Pitt’s residence
This is a beautiful building inside and out, but before you get to Pitt’s residence, you’ve got to get through one tenacious doorman.
Jerry gets on the wrong side of the doorman, played by Larry Miller, and in an attempt to make nice, offers to take his post while he gets a beer. It doesn’t take long for Jerry to abandon his station and boom: couch stolen from the lobby.
Upstairs with Mr. Pitt, Elaine didn’t fare much better (from the sock elasticity nightmare to blundering his Moland Springs merger). Elaine’s eventually fired by Mr. Pitt when he thinks her and Jerry are plotting to kill him.
Hey, they’ll always have Next Stop Pottersville. Which, by the way, is not actually a song from the big band era. The song we hear was composed by Jonathan Wolff, specifically for this episode, “The Mom & Pop Store,” along with “Honeysuckle Jump” which is played on the radio.
Elaine will have the big salad. Jerry will have an egg white omelet and for George, tuna on toast, unless he does the complete opposite which is chicken salad, on rye, untoasted … and a cup of tea! Kramer will have whatever’s leftover or free.
If I could order one thing from Monk’s Cafe (as Tom’s Restaurant was known on the show), it would be any of the soups, as long as Paco’s the line cook. Just to say I did, and I’d save the rubber band.
Al’s Soup Kitchen, AKA “The Original Soup Man”
259-A West 55th Street, between Broadway and 8th Ave
Speaking of soup, I’d be remiss to leave The Original Soup Man off this list as “No soup for you” is among the most famous catch phrases from the show. A slam so spicy it’s found its way into everyday lexicon, applied when someone doesn’t get something they’re going after.
The Soup Nazi character was inspired by Ali “Al” Yeganeh, the original owner of The Original Soup Man. Yeganeh was known for enforcing a strict regimentation when it came to ordering. He would say, “Pick the soup you want!” “Have your money ready!” “Move to the extreme left after ordering!” And if you didn’t order correctly, “No soup for you!”
Despite this episode being great for business, Yegenah detests the “Soup Nazi” character and does not like to talk about the show. A year after ‘The Soup Nazi’ aired in 1995, Jerry visited The Original Soup Man and was kicked out and banned by Yeganeh with a string of expletives and an epic, “No soup for you!”
The plot thickens, though. Later that day, Jerry came back with his girlfriend and sent her in to get the soup for him. What Jerry ordered in that covert mission is currently unknown but he got the soup. Mission accomplished.
Original location: 2239 Broadway @ 80th
New location: 526 Columbus Avenue, between 85th and 86th Streets
Kramer would probably call the new H&H Bagels a scab since the original H&H closed in 2011. This new location is actually called H&H Bagels Midtown East, a puzzler since it’s on the Upper West Side (and their other location is on the Upper East Side). Let’s knead the dough and sort this out.
The original H&H Bagels launched in 1972 when Helmer Toro and his brother-in-law, Hector Hernandez (hence, “H&H”) bought Midtown Bagels at 80th and Broadway. Toro soon took full control of the business and opened a second location, H&H Midtown Bagels East, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Come 1979, H&H went bankrupt for the first-time, which resulted in another company headed by Perry Alexiou taking over control of the East Side store.
The two bagel shops tolerated one another for a while. Toro’s H&H was selling more than 100,000 bagels a day, banking $11 million in sales in 1997 and dwarfing Alexiou’s $2 million at the East Side shop. Then on December 18, 1997, Seinfeld airs “The Strike,” which uses a stage-set version of Toro’s West Side H&H, and things go bang busters for him. Business is booming.
Alexiou launches a global marketing campaign for ‘H&H Bagels East’ and in comes a lawsuit from Toro, claiming ‘H&H Bagels East’ was riding his coattails. “They were trying to trick the public,” he said in an interview with The NY Times. “People would go to places and think they were getting H&H bagels, and they were not getting the original bagels.”
Alexiou’s company countersued and yadda yadda yadda, the judge found Toro had the sole right to use the original H&H Bagels name, logos and slogans – including “Like No Other Bagel in the World.” The judge also ruled Alexiou could no longer call his store “H&H Bagels East” and had to go by the name in the bankruptcy papers: “H&H Midtown Bagels East.”
With the dough of truth now risen, let’s celebrate a FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!
It’s at the original H&H on the Upper West Side where Frank Costanza visits Kramer to teach him the ways of Festivus, and with Kramer’s enthusiasm, Frank revives the holiday, pole and all.
When George’s girlfriend tells him, “We need to talk,” he responds that he’s out of soda and needs to get some. George leaves his apartment and never comes back, sleeping at his parent’s house.
The next day, George tells Jerry he’s supposed to be having lunch with her at Pomodoro. “Everyone breaks up at Pomodoro’s,” Jerry replies.
George does everything he can to avoid his girlfriend, Allison, because “if she can’t find me, she can’t break up with me,” meaning she’s still on the hook to be his date to George Steinbrenner’s ‘Pinstripe Ball’ at Tavern on the Green. “I’m finally going to make a great entrance,” George proclaims after saying Allison is, “genetically engineered to go to a ball. Tall, blonde, lith.”
Being pre-cell phone era, this paves the way for George’s famous answering machine message.
Plans are foiled when Kramer visits Allison to apologize for running onto the court of the Knicks game and throwing a hot dog at Reggie Miller. And to ask for a ticket tonight, “’cause the Rockets are in town and that Hakeem Alajuwon? Ohh, he’s got a real attitude.”
Allison sends in Kramer to break up with George for her at, you guessed it, Pomodoro.
129 West 81st Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam
Seinfeld buffs probably know the exterior of Jerry’s Upper West Side apartment building is actually in Los Angeles. 757 New Hampshire Avenue to be exact. The picture on the right (viewed here) is the actual apartment of the address used on the show. I know Jerry loves Superman, but I doubt he got the DC Comics superhero to re-arrange the buildings.
Jerry’s apartment number also does some re-arranging over the years. In “Male Unbonding,” the apartment door shows 411. “The Phone Message” episode displays 3A. Typically, we see Jerry in 5A with his nemesis Newman in 5E. Although, once in “The Doodle,” we see 5F.
Jerry Seinfeld is a real-life celebrity of the UWS, but his actual apartment is at The Beresford, located at 211 Central Park West (on the corner of 81st Street).
The Plaza Hotel
The scene of the senior citizen rage fest in “The Doodle.” Elaine snakes a comp room from Viking Press posing as an out of towner for her interview with them. “It’ll be like a little vacation, Jerry,” she gushes.
Elaine winds up giving the room to Jerry’s parents when his apartment gets infested with fleas, thanks to Newman. “This is the kind of room Sinatra would stay in,” Morty Seinfeld rejoices. He invites Uncle Leo and Nana over.
There are $100 an hour massages, 4 pay per view movies at once, and macadamia nuts galore. Nana’s Champagne goes flat so she throws the glass flute behind her, shattering it with a laugh. “Let the chamber maid clean it up.”
Elaine has a great interview but after the extravagant hotel room bill gets to Viking Press, she’s rejected.
Arriving at the Plaza Hotel room to check on the debauchery, Elaine is met by Uncle Leo in a robe. “I thought they were sending over an Asian woman.”
2626 Broadway, between 99th and 100th Streets
Two classic Seinfeld lines are delivered at The Metro.
In “The Stall” episode, Elaine gets stranded paperless in the bathroom, so she asks the woman in the stall next to her if she can spare some.
“I don’t have a square to spare. I can’t spare a square.” Elaine’s rebuffed, but she gets her revenge in the end, pulling the same move on this woman (Jerry’s suddenly new ex-girlfriend) at Monk’s.
But it’s George who takes the cake after delivering a diatribe for the ages against two loud mouth, obnoxious seat kickers. Only made possible since George was doing the opposite of everything he would normally do in the episode, “The Opposite.” Words won’t do this justice so click here for whole clip featuring, “If I have to tell ya again we’re gonna take it outside and I’m gonna show you what it’s like!”
Mount Sinai Roosevelt (renamed Mount Sinai West)
1000 10th Avenue, Between 58th and 59th Streets
Doctor: I have no medical evidence to back me up but something happened during the operation that staved off that infection. Something beyond science. Something perhaps … from above.
Doctor: Those can be very refreshing.
::Kramer shakes junior mints into Doctors hands::
Lincoln Center – The Met
Helping a friend, Elaine attends Swan Lake at the Met to pose as ‘the beard’ of a gay banker who works at a very conservative company.
Heck of a performance and I’m not talking about the ballet! They held hands, she called him honey and even planted a long smooch on him while playing with his hair.
What wasn’t in the script was Elaine falling for the gay banker. She sets forth to convert him hetero. After the next outing outside her apartment building, she asks the banker about “changing teams,” but the effort ultimately ends in defeat. Jerry comforts Elaine, saying “well, there’s always a place for you on our team.”
316 Columbus Ave. between 74th and 75th Streets
It was at Pappardella when Jerry flipped his lid and spit out a pecan after finding out they were in his date, Shelly’s, mouth. Strike 1.
George’s date, Paula, makes a doodle of him on a napkin that isn’t flattering. George thinks he looks like a troll. Upon finding out looks aren’t important to Paula, George gets demoralized, believing he’s ugly.
When confronting Paula on the street about his appearance, things suddenly turn sunny when she says George could wear sweatpants to Lincoln center. “You could drape yourself in velvet for all I care,” which was always George’s dream, “if it were socially acceptable.” Looks like we have a winner!
You wish! When George finishes the last of the Mackinaw peaches at Monk’s, Stella pops the pit in her mouth to suck on whatever possible nectar is left. George gags in revulsion. Done.
Jerry’s spending the night at Shelly’s but he forgets his toothbrush. She offers him hers, but Jerry won’t use it for strike 2. Done.Get the Upper West Side newsletter:
Featured image c/o Mdineenwob [Public domain]