Described as a “Polynesian Paradise,’ Luau 400 was a restaurant and bar on New York’s east side where set designer Watson Barratt of Broadway theatre fame (A Street Car Named Desire and the Ziegfeld Follies are among his many credits) employed his theatrical skills to imagine what the South Seas should be like.
There were tropical trees, both fake and real, waterfalls, exotic birds, hula dancers and ukulele players. Drinks came with umbrellas and people feasted on PuPu platters.
Opening in 1957 on 57th street east of First Avenue, Luau 400 was a favorite with Broadway actors and actresses and theatregoers on their way home.
Owner Harry Bloomfield was both a restaurateur and a theatre producer. At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, he operated five restaurants and later opened the Old Absinthe House on West 52nd street.
The first Broadway show he produced was Many Happy Returns in 1945, for which he brought actress Mary Astor back from Hollywood to make her debut on stage.
He also worked with theatrical impresarios Billy Rose and Mike Tood, the third husband of actress Elizabeth Taylor.
This Luau 400 menu is from the 1960s and featured a Pan Am ad, reminding New Yorkers that Hawaii was only five hours away by air. It was available to buy for a dollar or more which went to the Damon Runyan Fund, a cancer research fund set up in honor of the iconic American sportswriter.
The restaurant closed in the early 1970s.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.
All printed in USA.