A new restaurant in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan pays tribute to one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time: Golden Girls. Like most theme restaurants, Rue La Rue Cafe offers nods to its source material via its decor and menu. But unlike many theme restaurants — like, say, Beetle House or Stay Classy — this one has a real, bona fide connection to the show because it’s co-owned by Mark Bish, the son of actress Rue McLanahan, and Michael J. LaRue, who is the executor of her estate. The walls are adorned with Golden Girls artifacts from McLanahan’s personal archive, which she hoped to someday share with fans. LaRue tells the New York Times: “It’s a museum with good food.”
As the story goes, LaRue met McLanahan many years ago at a charity event at Studio 54. They hit it off and stayed friends till her passing in 2010. The actress, who was married six times, apparently used to joke about getting hitched to LaRue so that her name could be Rue LaRue. The restaurateur also tells the NYT: “I once asked Rue why she got married so often, and she said, ‘I don’t want to die alone ... And she didn’t; I was there, holding her. I was able to look in her eyes and tell her, ‘Everything’s going to be okay, you have nothing to worry about.’”
After a few weeks in business, the Rue La Rue Cafe is already very busy. Here are some of the things inside the restaurant that will likely impress Golden Girls superfans:
• A display case with the shoes that McClanahan wore in the Golden Girls pilot, plus a podium bearing her 1987 Emmy Award. The dining room also has mannequins draped in various gowns that McClanahan wore on the show.
• Two walls with the same “banana leaf Martinique” wallpaper that McClanahan’s character, Blanche, had in her bedroom.
• A shrine to the yellow phone that the ladies used on the show.
• A menu that includes real-life versions of foods that were consumed on Golden Girls, like Genügenflürgen cake and lasagna al forno. Guests can also order dishes made from recipes that the Golden Girls actresses used in real life, like Betty White’s angel food cake, and Bea Arthur’s chutney. Of course, cheesecake is also on the menu.
• A wall dedicated to photos of McClanahan’s husbands, and another that’s entirely full of Betty White pictures.
• A gold star plaque on the sidewalk outside the restaurant bearing Rue McLanahan’s name with the message, “Thank you for being a friend.”
• Individual coffee blends named after all four of the Golden Girls.
• Pink and mint checkered tiles in the bathroom, just like at the Golden Girls house, as well as a door depicting a naked rear end on one side and an exposed breast on the other (this was part of McClanahan’s personal art collection).
• A flat screen TV showing episodes of the Golden Girls. The cafe also features live music on a regular basis.
La Rue has 220 artifacts from the show, which he plans to circulate throughout the year. Right now, Rue La Rue Cafe is offering breakfast and lunch, but there are plans to serve dinner soon.
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