Kaufman was the feisty owner of Elaine's, the fabled Upper East Side restaurant frequented by celebs, geriatric literary types, and the occasional politico. She passed away in 2010, and Elaine's followed suit in 2011.
In 1963, Washington Heights native and onetime waitress Elaine Kaufman took her life savings, purchased a building on 88th and Second, and opened up a restaurant named after herself on the ground floor. Kaufman's eatery soon became known for catering to New York's literary elite—people like Lewis Lapham and the late Norman Mailer. Kaufman's septuagenarian regulars included Cindy Adams, Bobby Zarem, Liz Smith, and Gay and Nan Talese, who were all treated like members of Kaufman's extended family. Few received better treatment, though, than Woody Allen, who had been a regular at Elaine's for three decades.
Elaine was a constant presence at her restaurant. The rounded restaurateur could usually be found in huge black-rimmed glasses, bright red lipstick, and a tent-like black dress sitting at the bar or at one of the front tables, warmly greeting her regulars, and less warmly greeting newbies. (Her faves are always seated ahead of people whom she doesn't know, even if they have reservations.) However, when Elaine died from emphysema and hypertension in late 2010, the restaurant shut its doors soon after, with longtime manager Diane Becker noting, "The business is just not there without Elaine." [Image via Getty]