A round six-top, right across from the bar (and the cashier’s stool), Table 4 was Elaine’s table, a perch where she could see most of her restaurant, especially the front door and who was crossing that famous threshold.

But for many years it was also an oasis for writers who had wandered into the restaurant after wrestling words onto an empty page and were hoping to find solace and a sympathetic ear from the lady of the house.

Although Elaine was a world-class listener, she was far from a coddler. At Table 4, she offered the writers just what they needed: sometimes a kick in the pants, or an introduction to a fellow writer or agent but always a directive to order something to eat.

On many nights, Table 4 was a magical cross-section of novelists, journalists, cops and gangsters. Inhabited over the years by the likes of Nick Pileggi, William Styron, Gay Talese, Winston Groom, Peter Maas and Joan Didion, just to name a few, Table 4 was the Algonquin Round Table of its generation but with characters who seemed to have walked right off the page of a Raymond Chandler novel.

Ultimately though, for the writers, Table 4 was a place where they found their clan, their comfort and their courage to face another empty page.

Written by Brian McDonald, Author of Last Call at Elaine’s

The Table 4 Writers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charitable organization.

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