Popovers and Candlelight: Patricia Murphy and the Rise and Fall of a Restaurant Empire

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SUNY Press, Sep 10, 2018 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages

 Recounts the true story of an entrepreneurial woman who succeeded in a male-dominated industry in the twentieth century.


What would you do with your last sixty dollars? If you were Patricia Murphy you d turn it into a fortune by buying a rundown Brooklyn diner. On the cusp of the Great Depression, the diner became an overnight sensation, the first of nine popular Patricia Murphy s Candlelight Restaurants that opened over the course of four decades in New York and Florida. Popovers and Candlelight recounts how Murphy bucked Mad Men erasexism in a male-dominated field and created remarkable dining experiences with solid American fare, a talented staff, and eye-popping décor. Dripping in diamonds, she transcended ethnic prejudices to become a socialite and built a brand that sold fragrance as well as food. Mutinous siblings, a desperate manager, and a typhoid outbreak brought it all to an operatic end, but Marcia Biederman restores Murphy and her contributions to their proper place in women s and culinary history. This book will delight readers with its rags-to-riches story and fascinating view of class, gender, ethnicity, and food culture during much of the twentieth century.

An impressive accomplishment on many counts: Biederman describes an important but forgotten chapter in mid-century restaurant history, portrays an outsize, Mildred Pierce like personality, and gives a memorable sense of postwar, populuxe suburbia. Paul Freedman, author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America
 

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Contents

1 Truth or Dare
1
2 Patricia of Avalon
15
3 New Girl
27
4 On the Heights
43
5 Remodeling
57
6 War
67
7 Love
77
8 Schism in the Suburbs
87
12 Grieve Drink Expand
137
13 Where the Yachts Are
147
14 Storm over the Marina
157
15 Manhattan Transfer
167
16 Desperate Measures
181
17 Ignominy
191
18 The Partys Over
203
Notes
211

9 The Crown Jewel
103
gallery of photos
116
10 Revenge
117
11 Spinning to a Stop
127
Selected Bibliography
225
Index
227
Copyright

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About the author (2018)

 Marcia Biederman teaches English as a Second Language at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, and has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times.

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