Life

Experience The Original Soup Man, The Coffee Shop, And Other ‘Seinfeld’ Landmarks

The New York City of Jerry Seinfeld and friends is, mostly (and sadly), no more. Kramer’s H&H Bagels has been replaced with a Verizon store (much to President Obama’s chagrin), and the Royale Pastry shop of West 72nd Street, also known as the Royal Bakery of the babka/black and white cookie/vomit-free streak’s end is now a Jenny Craig. Champagne Video? The place where George tried to return Rochelle, Rochelle and rent Breakfast at Tiffany’s? It’s an optometrist that I sincerely hope carries glasses from the Gloria Vanderbilt Collection. Even the Westbury Hotel — where Jerry and George met Elaine’s gruff father, and where the comedian’s suede jacket was irreparably destroyed — is gone. It’s been replaced by condos.

It’s hard to imagine what’s featured on Kenny Kramer’s famous Seinfeld reality tour anymore. Even the more polished On Location outing has a disclaimer featured on the tour page:  “[We] cannot guarantee the presence of locations mentioned on our site.”

For diehards who just finished a Hulu series re-watch, however, there are still a few of the show’s iconic Manhattan locations open and available for a self-guided trek to serenity… now.

The Soup Man – Seinfeld‘s The Soup Nazi

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of soup for you. The show’s famous Soup Nazi was based on Soup Kitchen International, which was a popular soup restaurant owned by Al Yeganeh at 259 West 55th Street and 8th Avenue. Seinfeld, Larry David, and friends used to frequent the shop for lunch. Yeganeh was far from grateful for the free promotion however, and resented his tyrannical portrayal. “He got fame through me! I made him famous,” Yeganeh once raged about Seinfeld during a CNN interview. He then closed the doors to the popular soup place back in 2004 – but kept the lease. The store reopened at the same location six years later, just under a new name – The Original Soup Man.

According to Yelp-ers, the line isn’t too bad, and no, you won’t face any verbal abuse. While prices are a little high, it appears the soup lives up to expectations.

The Original Soup Man is also a franchise, so, even if you can’t make it to the Big Apple, there’s still a chance for you to sample the crab bisque. There are locations in New Jersey and Connecticut, and boxed versions are available for purchase in major grocery store chain locations in several Western states (Oklahomans, you’re in luck!).

LOCATION: 259 W. 55th St. (map)

Tom’s Restaurant – Seinfeld‘s Monk’s Café


Seinfeld
gets all the credit for putting Tom’s Restaurant in Morningside Heights on the map, but really, back in 1987, Suzanne Vega gave the eatery its first big break. Ever heard a little ditty called “Tom’s Diner?”

Regardless, the exterior shots of Jerry and co.’s main hangout, Monk’s Café is the restaurant at 112th St. and Broadway. Fans be warned – Tom’s interior is vastly different than what you remember from TV. All those scenes were shot in a California sound stage. A plethora of Seinfeld memorabilia now adorns the walls, but, apparently, the food doesn’t match the show’s colorful onscreen persona. Yelp users call it “bland” and “tasteless.” Come for the nostalgia, but don’t expect gastronomic delights.

LOCATION: 2880 Broadway (map)

Sardi’s

Sardi’s is best known as the caricature-covered Times Square restaurant that’s frequented by the after-theatre crowd and on-stage stars, alike. Open since 1927, it’s created and maintained its reputation as Broadway’s fine dining companion. For Seinfeld fans, however, it’s where Kramer’s Tony took him.

In season eight’s “The Summer of George,” Kramer attends the Tony Awards as a seat filler, only to be mistakenly swept onstage with the producers of faux-musical Scarsdale Surprise. Obviously, Kramer runs with it and begins to carry his award around much like “Anne Hathaway after the Oscars” (thanks for that one, Amy). With all the glory and none of the talent, Kramer uses the award to get a table at Sardi’s, only to be confronted by the Scarsdale Surprise showrunners. Yada, yada, yada, Kramer has to fire Raquel Welch to keep the trophy.

Oh, if only Cosmo adorned the eatery’s star-filled walls.

LOCATION: 234 W. 44th St. (map)

Gray’s Papaya – Seinfeld’s Papaya King

While the Paragon Theatre featured in “The Movie” appears to now be an AMC, there’s still one remnant of the season four episode you can visit: Gray’s Papaya. As the gang stands in a seemingly endless line to see the fictional movie Checkmate, Kramer gets a case of the munchies. Rather than waiting for cinematic snacks, he insists he’s got to get a hot dog from Papaya King (another NYC iconic dog dispensary). “I don’t wanna get a movie hot dog,” he whines to Elaine before embarking to have a wiener he dubs “better than filet mignon.”

While Papaya King, like we said, is very, very real, the actual restaurant Kramer grabs food from is the also-classic Gray’s Papaya on the Upper West Side. The uptown Gray’s is, sadly, the only one left in the city. The restaurant, which is famously inexpensive, first opened in 1973 and was once named the purveyor of the city’s best hot dog.

LOCATION: 2090 Broadway (map)

West 81st St – Jerry and Kramer’s Apartment Building, The Shelby

While the facade viewers see of Jerry and Kramer’s apartment building is over on the West Coast, the address is very, very real. Our Upper West Siders lived near Central Park on West 81st Street between Columbus and Amsterdam. While your Seinfeld journey may take you all over the city, prepare yourselves for a little disappointment when it comes to the location of the comedian’s 5A one-bedroom apartment – the real building looks absolutely nothing like the L.A. complex you’ve grown to know.

Hulu recreated the bachelor pad to extremely accurate detail to promote the show’s addition to the streaming site, but, unfortunately, the exhibit was just a pop-up, one-time deal.

LOCATION: 129 W. 81st St. (map)

West Side YMCA

Former real-life Mets baseball player Keith Hernandez made three appearances in Seinfeld episodes, but first met fictional Jerry at the Upper West Side’s creatively  named West Side YMCA. It’s hard to believe a pro baseball player would rely on the Young Men’s Club to work out, but times were different back then. The show’s male leads frequent the athletic club, but its most memorable appearance was season three’s “The Boyfriend.” Hernandez’s onscreen persona goes on to date Elaine and gets into a JFK assassination-style spitting fiasco with Newman and Kramer. And, at 61, he still makes around $3,000 a year in rerun royalties. The show about nothing still pays him for doing… very little.

The YMCA is still operational, and still features extensive athletic facilities. They’ve even jumped in on the spin cult– ahem — fitness trend. The building’s facade is classic old NYC, but it’s doubtful the locker rooms reflect our on-screen memories.

LOCATION: 5 W. 63rd St. (map)

×