Remember the Endless Shrimp at Beefsteak Charlie’s in Danbury?
Do you remember when restaurants used to throw food in your face? True "All-you-can-eat" establishments? I loved the all-you-can-eat shrimp and salad bar at Beefsteak Charlie's. We used to go to the Danbury, Westport, and Enfield locations, and I also loved the flagship restaurant in New York City.
Beefsteak Charlie's was a chain restaurant, concentrated in the New York City Metropolitan area, that lasted almost 100 years, from 1910 to around 2001-02. At their peak, over 60 Beefsteak Charlie's restaurants were serving up their signature all-you-can-eat shrimp cocktail and salad bar, and for the adults, unlimited beer, wine, and sangria. I found a vintage Beefsteak Charlie's matchbook on Ebay, with one of their famous slogans - "I'll feed you like there's no tomorrow."
Can you imagine that concept in 2022? Shrimp cocktail, salad bar, wine, beer, and sangria - unlimited, all you can eat? I spent weeks peeling the shells off those shrimp and eating blue cheese-topped salads. It was easy to laugh off a terrible cut of steak when you could literally drink and eat yourself silly.
I don't remember my dad getting too loaded off of the free beer, it was the house draught from what I can recall, they weren't serving you pitchers of Heineken or Bud Light. I remember going to the Beefsteak Charlie's in Times Square after I had turned 21. I used to get a carafe of beer first, then switch over to the house red when the steak came out. I was way more into the endless shrimp.
What happened to Beefsteak Charlie's? Bad business mergers. The company was bought a couple of times in the mid 80's, and slowly faded away in the 90's. There have been a couple of attempts to revive the brand, most recently in 2009 on Long Island, but I still think about that huge bowl of shrimp on ice.