P.J. Clarke’s

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I’ve been going to P.J. Clarke’s since 1959 when a group of upperclassmen brought a group of “newbies” there in an effort to convince us that we wanted to join their fraternity. I had a rare cheeseburger and a cup of chili. One of the guys explained that there was a slice of raw onion under the bun. I was 16 years old. The room was filled with models and I had just learned one of the secrets of P.J. Clarke’s. I was sold.

For 56 years, I’d had a rare cheeseburger and a cup of chili every time I went to P.J. Clarke’s. It became a family tradition though some of our grandchildren have other favorites.

A few years ago, new owners changed the chili. Eventually, they took it off the menu. I became cranky and wrote about this on Tripadvisor and Google. Each time I went to back, I’d order a rare cheeseburger and a cup of chili. Each time the waiter would tell me that they no longer serve chili and we’d get into a conversation about it. Believe me, I wasn’t the only unhappy camper.

Two months ago, I noticed that PJ Clarke’s had hired a person to read comments on Tripadvisor, Yelp and other sights as a way of knowing what clients were saying about them. I called her. She connected me to Phil Scotti (CEO). We talked for an hour about New York restaurants. He told me about how he had restored the men’s room. I asked “if you cared enough to restore the men’s room, how about restoring the menu by bringing back the chili”? He said that he’d look into it.

A few weeks ago, I had a call from my new friend, Phil. Not only have they put chili back on the menu, they have named it in my honor as I was such an advocate…that’s a genteel way of putting what he said.

By the way, the chili is great…as is the restaurant…as is delivery service…and it’s open till 3am.

It’s wonderful when institutions don’t change.

Doug Anderson

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2 Responses to “P.J. Clarke’s”

  1. Incredible and beautiful news.

    Like you, for years we were loyal devotees of a single dish at Clarke’s- rare cheeseburger with a cup of chili. We were heart-broken when they took the chili off the menu. We have not been back since.

    Bless you Doug for your fantastic achievement. Can’t wait to see if they have restored the original, unequaled chili formula.

  2. As you might guess, I’m not good with change. The new chili is fabulous. Just had it for lunch. Give them a try.

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