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Theatreland restaurateur Joe Allen dies aged 87

09 February 2021 by
Theatreland restaurateur Joe Allen dies aged 87

Joe Allen, founder of the eponymous theatre district restaurants in London, New York and Paris, has died at the age of 87.

His son, Taylor Lumia, told the New York Times that Allen passed away at an assisted living facility in Hampton, New Hampshire, on Sunday 7 February.

Allen opened his first restaurant in 1965 just off Broadway in New York and it soon became a haven for budding actors who worked as waiters between jobs.

In 1977 a sister site opened in London's Covent Garden and was dubbed ‘the West-End's canteen' due to attracting large numbers of theatregoers, actors and celebrities.

Notable patrons have included Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, Sir Ian McKellen and Jennifer Saunders, with the restaurant maintaining a strict no-photograph policy to protect the privacy of its high-profile guests.

The London site was taken over by restaurateurs Lawrence Hartley and Tim Healey in 2012, who have paid tribute to Allen.

They said: "Joe was such an unassuming, generous man and he knew bars and restaurants through and through. He would always be sat at the worst table at Joe's to leave the best ones to customers – that's how he was. He will be sorely missed by all of us; we raise a glass to him."

The Joe Allen restaurants remain pillars of the theatre communities on both sides of the Atlantic, and last year the London site ran virtual cabaret shows to raise money to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.

The New York restaurant's Twitter account shared a message from Allen's daughter, Julie, which said: "By now you have heard the word of Joe passing and I want you all to know it was very peaceful. He died during a great nor'easter with the wind blowing and the snow swirling everywhere. I thought that was fitting. We held hands and he slipped away.

"To my crazy, quirky, brilliant, wonderful father; I love you and I will always, always miss you. And as Joe might say, 'Come on now, let's not go overboard'."

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