Hotel Edison to Close Italian Restaurant Sofia's After 37 Years
MIDTOWN — It's curtains for one of the Theater District's longest-running restaurants.
Sofia's Restaurant at the Hotel Edison, a 37-year-old Italian eatery and jazz club that features twice-weekly shows by Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, will shut down in August, Giordano and restaurant employees confirmed.
The restaurant, which once hosted the Tony Awards and was used to film the fateful scene where Luca Brasi "sleeps with the fishes" in "The Godfather," has fallen from its heyday as an elegant pre- or post-theater destination. With just a two-star rating on Yelp, reviewers have cited it for lackluster food, poor service and dilapidated decor.
Giordano and restaurant workers told DNAinfo New York that the hotel's owners recently increased the restaurant's rent, essentially forcing the eatery to leave.
"We're all looking to find new jobs," a worker said.
The Hotel Edison did not return calls and emails, and Sofia's management could not immediately be reached for comment. The restaurant's closure was first reported on Jeremiah Moss' "Vanishing New York" blog.
One highlight at Sofia's recently has been Giordano and his Nighthawks, who have performed in the restaurant's downstairs jazz-club every Monday and Tuesday night for the past five years and are now scrambling to find another home.
The band, which won a Grammy last year for the soundtrack it recorded for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," is renowned for its renditions of 1920s and '30s jazz, and even once recorded an album for jazz-enthusiast Woody Allen at a studio on the restaurant's second floor.
"I'm sad that my gig there is coming to an end," said Giordano, 61, who learned of the impending closure last week. "This unfortunately has happened so many times to me for places that we have played at. We start from scratch and built up a nice momentum, and then all the sudden Mr. and Mrs. Landlord pull the rug from under you."
"The band has to play together," he said. "Practice makes better — I've given up on perfect — but it's an essential ingredient, and it's why those bands in the big-band days sounded so great in their recordings."
The band will keep playing at Sofia's until the lease runs out — "the show must go on," Giordano said — but the final performance will be Aug. 13. At the end of each show, he offers the same invocation.
"Support live entertainment," Giordano said. "Whether it's opera or live rock-and-roll or cabaret or country or jazz, we all need help. That's my mission from the pulpit there."