Louis Sherry (1855 – 1926)

From Wikipedia:

“Sherry’s was a restaurant in New York City. It was established by Louis Sherry in 1880 at 38th Street and Sixth Avenue. In the 1890s, it moved to West 37th Street, near Fifth Avenue. By 1898 it had moved to the corner of 44th Street and Fifth Avenue, before moving to the Hotel New Netherland on the corner of 59th Street in 1919.

Around 1880, with $1,300 saved from his time at the Hotel Elberon, Sherry launched his first restaurant in New York City at 38th Street and Sixth Avenue. The new establishment struggled a bit at first, but Sherry’s knack for “dainty decorations” and the “novelties of service” won a following from “The Four Hundred” (late 19th century term for New York City’s social elite, coined by Ward McAllister). In a short time, Sherry upgraded to a larger (and more prestigious) location at 37th Street and Fifth Avenue in 1890. But even that location proved too small, and again the business upgraded to a building owned by Isaac Vail Brokaw at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue in 1898.

The restaurant was the site for a dinner on horseback held by wealthy industrialist Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, who had recently opened a private trotting stable at what is Fort Tryon Park today. Billings intended to have the dinner at the stables, but changed his mind and rented the main ballroom at Louis Sherry’s instead. On March 28, 1903, the horses were brought to the fourth floor of the Sherry building by freight elevator into a room fitted with a canvas backdrop to simulate an English country scene. Billings invited 36 guests to dine with him on horseback. Trays for the food were attached to the riding saddles and champagne was able to be sipped from a bottle in one’s saddlebag via rubber tubing. The horses were not Billings’ own, but had been rented from local riding academies for the dinner; they were fed with troughs.

In 1919 it moved to Hotel New Netherland, on the corner of 59th Street.

In 1919, with the advent of Prohibition, Sherry announced the closure of his restaurant and ballroom which “for a generation [had] been the scene of some of New York’s most brilliant social gatherings.” In place of the restaurant, Sherry immediately established Louis Sherry Inc., with a capitalization of $400,000, and the intent of performing “catering and the manufacture and sale of candies and pastries”. He opened a new shop at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue for this business, and announced an “alliance” with the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel that involved both his candies and catering services. Although it was not disclosed at that time, at some point ownership of Louis Sherry Inc. was significantly vested in “Boomer-duPont interests” (a reference to Lucius M. Boomer, then chairman of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and T. Coleman du Pont).

Although it bears his name, it does not seem that Louis Sherry was personally involved in the landmark Sherry-Netherland Hotel. The “old” Netherland Hotel, originally built around 1892 for William Waldorf Astor, was acquired in 1924 by Frederick Brown, “an operator, [to] be remodeled into stores and apartments”. It was not until March 1927 (nearly a year after Sherry’s death) that the almost-complete “new” Netherland was acquired by Louis Sherry Inc. (through a subsidiary called The Sherry-Netherland Company). By that time the company was controlled by Boomer and du Pont through their “Boomer-du Pont Properties Corporation”, which also owned the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.”

From jazzageclub.com:

“…With the construction of the new splendid, Grand Central station (see image) a new smart Park Avenue emerged and in late 1921 Sherry opened a new restaurant at 300 Park Ave on two floors of an eighteen storey apartment hotel. There was a large formal restaurant and a small informal one on the ground floor, ballrooms above and then fourteen stories of ninety living apartments. The main restaurant had a collection of Sixteenth century tapestries valued at $200,000…”

From the New York Times of Aug. 1, 1952:

“Sherry’s Restaurant at 300 Park Avenue, which with its predecessor restaurants founded by the late Louis Sherry has conducted fashionable parties for several generations of New Yorkers, closed its doors yesterday.”

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