Frankie and Johnnie’s started life as a speakeasy back in 1926 and is one of the Theater District’s longest-running restaurants. This evening the steakhouse reopens on Restaurant Row after surviving the pandemic.
Back in March 2020 as COVID closed New York, the business was still reeling from the sudden death of owner Peter Chimos at 75 years old from a brain aneurism in December 2019. Peter worked for the business and then bought the restaurant from the previous owners in 1982. His sons, Gus and Billy Chimos, are now the owners of the eatery (which has another two locations in midtown and Westchester).
Restaurant manager Adrian Preda said: “It’s been a tough time. We tried opening at different times during the pandemic. However, we’re going to be open as normal from Friday with our full menu plus the whole place has had a fresh coat of paint.”
“I hope tourists and offices are coming back. The theaters reopening will make a huge difference for us,” said Preda, who shared with us that his favorite menu item was the rib-eye steak.
The restaurant walls are covered with Broadway posters and photos of Peter serving famous faces like Tom Selleck (who liked his sirloin steak after a Black Label starter), Michael Douglas, Richard Nixon, and George and Barbara Bush.
Back in 2016, the restaurant had to give up its original location on W45th Street in the middle of the Theater District after 90 years — but survived the move a block away to W46th Street between 8/9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. During speakeasy times customers had to knock on an unmarked door and use the password “Frankie” — to which the gatekeeper replied “Johnnie”. These days, the only advice for easy entry is to make a reservation on OpenTable!