Tony the Tour Guy's Mostly 1970s NYC History Blog

Welcome to Tony the Tour Guy's blog! Here we feature Tony's rants about various topics in New York City history, with particular emphasis upon that typically unappreciated decade, the Seventies. For our purposes, the era began roughly at the time when Jimi Hendrix died (9/18/70) and ended with the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the freedom of the Iran hostages (1/20/81). We cover everything from Pet Rocks to the Moonies to Checker Taxicabs here, and welcome your participation.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Steak and Brew - Gristle, Sizzle and Skimpy Suds

Steak and Brew was probably the first chain of halfway serious (other than fast food) restaurants in our area. They advertised extensively on FM rock stations and marketed themselves to college students (and younger siblings who borrowed their ID). For about $7.95 you got a complete dinner consisting of an appetizer, a steak, veggies, a baked potato, ice cream and coffee. But, most important to your average client, the owners promised unlimited beer, wine or sangria. For an extra buck or so you could get a lobster instead of a steak.

What was the food like? Well, I recall going there in 1975. Adjusted for the Consumer Price Index, a $7.95 dinner would cost about $30.00 in today's money - reasonable for a steak dinner, but a bit much for your typical college kid. The steak was, well, al-dente, and although the beer was unlimited, getting our waitress to refill the one-quart pitcher which was allotted per table was not easy. In addition, we had the distinct impression that the suds (probably Rheingold or some other cheap brand) were watered down.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We loved "Steak and Brew" when we lived in NYC. Always had a good meal, Not much around to comparie with today.
So glad for this writeup. Was trying to remember restaurants in NYC in the 70s and this came up as we could remember it's sister "The Cattleman." Thanks.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went they're often in the early 70's! just jumped on the tubes from Journal Square Jersey City. we were only 16 and 17 at the time but they served us liquor without even asking for ID! the unlimitred pitchers of sangria was awesome!! great times!!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really was a great 'bang for the buck'! The steak--the pitchers! Remember it like it was yesterday -- especially those long loaves of white, rye and pump 'slice 'em yourself' breads, and oh, those bacon bits at the salad bar!!

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a 22 year old boy from SC, a Vietnam veteran and stationed at Brooklyn Naval Station. My wife and I loved going to Steak and Brew. If I recall correctly, there was at least 3 of them located in the vicinity of Broadway and 50th street. We didn't have much money and we could eat big there. My fondest memories of New York are there. My wife stole one of the slate board menus and it now hangs on the wall in my kitchen. Steak and Lobster was $6.50. Would send a picture of it, but I don't know how to attach it here.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

There also was a chain The Brew Burger,and Steak and Brew Burger,owned by Riese restaurants.I worked at many of their locations (those were the days)--just click about the only place to eat in Times Square.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Coop said...

There also was a chain The Brew Burger,and Steak and Brew Burger,owned by Riese restaurants.I worked at many of their locations (those were the days)--just click about the only place to eat in Times Square.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Blair "70 said...

The memory of this place was tucked away in my head for years...I remember about 20 of us as Blair Academy seniors sitting down to a great meal...and those who weren't 18 yet had big smiles on there faces as we toasted each other!

1:18 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I worked as a bartender at Steak & Brew and Brew Burgers all up and down midtown Manhattan in 1977 and 1978. Hired by a guy named Mr. Avinash and fired by at least seven of his "stupid" managers for everything from showing up two minutes late to wearing brown socks. Mr. Avinash always sent me to another restaurant the same or next day. I was always employed. Tips were great ($30-50 a night) for that time and the customers were always a treat, especially the kids from New Jersey who always seemed unable to hold their liquor and tried to jump checks. We caught most of them and had a couple of really excellent, room-clearing fights, especially in the store on 57th and 7th (across from O'Brien's Balloon... I think that was the name). Great times. Hookers were regulars, as were various locals.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Tony the Tour Guy said...

Tell me, Rick: did they really water-down the beer there? I thought they did. We went there because it was cheap, and they didn't check IDs.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

I worked there from 77'-79' as a waiter,bartender,and manager.Was 21 years old!Burgers and salads were goood!,and their apple pie was fantastic.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Coop said...

We served eveybody..no i.d.required!

11:24 PM  
Blogger Coop said...

No,Tony,it was just the cheapest beer to begin with!

2:29 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

No,Tony,it was just the cheapest beer to begin with!

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Dad was the manager at the RT-17s Paramus, NJ location. 1970-71 time frame. I remember drinking right out of the tap.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked at Steak and Brew. The beer wasn't "watered down". It was Knickerbocker beer right out of the keg.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked as a waitress "79" for Brew Burger in many Manhattan locations. 7th ave and 47th street, park ave south, 44th street, etc. The beer was knickerbocker and mostly flat. German tourists appeared to be our target market.The cheesecake was amazing by any standard.....
David Caruso worked there too..... like Rick said Mr. Avinash sent people around to different locations no matter how horrible or great of an employee they were....Employee retention skills.

"Salad Man" on 5th ave bet 42nd and 43rd was another Reise restaurant I was sent to work at. That place was a circus and a half. What comes to mind immediately is the fly infestation. The running joke was to set the table with a knife, fork, napkin, flyswatter.
Young Chinese guy was the manager can't remember his name..... nicest guy though..... he seemed traumatized.
Waiters were snorting something out of a bottle that they said they acquired at a "head shop."
Those were cigarette shops that sold a little something extra run by mostly middle eastern men ( that's a whole other blog)

"The Boss" was another one. All you can eat shrimp and salad bar. Sangria was made with Carlo Rossi wine 7up and orange juice....
I doubt That business model would ever fly in today's world....

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the bread bar, the bread was always fresh baked and the butter melted on it. My favorite drink if I recall correctly was the pirates grog. A real short bus ride from Jersey City to port authority.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

When I went to NYU I would go often to one on 13th St and 5th (?). Steak was actually good. Nice char on it. Beer was Rupert's which the name was taken by Rheingold when they went bust. By the second pitcher it was fine. No problem with service, just tip a buck or so per person up front and regular tip at the end.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I worked at the KING of Prussia Pa location I believe our sangria was port wine mixed with ginger ale or soda water with oranges. We also had to pay union dues, which was funny as we were high school kids and they took about two hours pay each month. Years later the union started sending me their new journal lol I was a fun place to work

1:27 PM  

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