March 22, 2018 By Tara Law
The historic Astor Room restaurant has reopened with a new name— George’s at Kaufman Astoria Studios— in honor of the late studio runner.
The classic restaurant, which has been controlled by the owners of the film studio for nearly a century, reopened today with a new look, name and menu after closing in January for renovations. The eatery is located at 35-11 35th Avenue, beside the entrance to the studio.
George’s may have a new name and appearance, but its menu and aesthetic is tinged with nostalgia for old Hollywood and Americana.
The new menu, which is styled like an old-fashioned newspaper, offers options such as veal chops, roast chicken and crab cakes. Several dishes are named for old Hollywood stars, including Groucho’s New England Clam Chowder and Gloria’s Grilled Vegetable Platter, name for Groucho Marx and Gloria Swanson, respectively.
The restaurant also references movie industry figures with the names of its cocktails. Drinks include The Marx Brother’s Mezcal, made with mezcal, muddled mango and jalapeño, and grapefruit bitters, and the Clara Bow, made with bourbon, St. Germain, grenadine, fresh squeezed lemon and bruised mint.
The renovated space, which has new carpets, windows and seating, also recalls old Hollywood glamour with black and white photographs of stars from the studio’s early history.
The eatery was first opened to serve hungry movie-makers from Paramount Studios, which opened in Astoria in 1920. After the U.S. Army’s Pictorial Service took over the studio in 1942 to create indoctrination and training videos, the restaurant was used as a club for Army officers.
The studio fell into disuse over the decades until real estate developer George Kaufman purchased the property in 1982. The studio, and with it the surrounding neighborhood, were revitalized under Kaufman’s leadership, and many prominent films and television shows have since been filmed there.
“He was a developer, but [the studio] was his pride and joy,” restaurant manager Gjovalin Nikçi said of Kaufman.
A new chapter in the restaurant’s history also began under Kaufman’s leadership. Before Kaufman decided to open the eatery to the public in 2011, the space was exclusively used by studio workers.
Kaufman passed away in February, shortly after the renovations began. To Nikçi, renaming the restaurant was an easy decision.
“We intend for George’s to live up to the legacy that he has left behind,” Nikçi wrote in a message announcing the reopening.