“Late luncheon is the time to visit Sardi’s. . . . Celebrities appear to crawl out of their shells and come out in the open for a little nourishment.”
—Rian James, Dining in New York (1930)
When Vincent Sardi, Sr., opened his new restaurant in 1927 right in the middle of New York’s theater district, he had celebrities very much in mind. Eager to attract famous guests—and those who would flock after them—he welcomed a cluster of theater critics, columnists, and press agents who called themselves the Cheese Club and gathered there regularly for lunch. The Russian émigré artist Alex Gard began drawing caricatures of the group, and Sardi hung them near the table where Club members liked to sit. As others in the theater world increasingly made Sardi’s their favorite lunch spot, he hired Gard to keep drawing. Caricatures of actors, singers, managers, and writers started appearing on the walls of the restaurant and became its trademark. After Gard’s death in 1948, the artist Don Bevan took over. New caricatures still appear on Sardi’s walls, created now by Richard Baratz.