Hoexters, a 1970s NYC restaurant staple, reinvented with comfort at core

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Monday, January 29, 2024
Hoexters, a '70s NYC restaurant staple, revived with comfort at core
A picture online of a matchbook from a restaurant her father owned in the 1970s gave her an inspiration for a revival that's all in the family.

UPPER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A fire at Alexandra Shapiro's restaurant left her looking for some sort of inspiration for what to do next with the space.

That's when she came across a picture online of a matchbook from a restaurant her father owned in the 1970s.

And that's all the sign she needed.

"Hoexters was my dad's first restaurant that opened in 1977 on the Upper East Side," Alexandra said. "Right around the corner on 82nd and Third, we're actually butted up against their back wall."

It wasn't just the name of the restaurant she brought back.

"We brought back a dish I've been hearing about my whole life, called the gorgonzola garlic bread," Alexandra said. "It's pretty classic garlic bread on Italian bread, lot of garlic butter, and then it's smothered in gorgonzola cheese sauce and it's pretty decadent, it's the kind of dish it goes through the dining room and it's smoking a little bit and the whole place smells and everyone's turning around saying what is that? So that's our real homage to Hoexters."

If you'd like to try their take on a classic American dish, they say their burger is delicious.

"It's served with this incredible, new American cheese called New School American cheese. So it's two patties, two slices of American cheese our special sauce and some delicious pickles all on an Eli's bun," she said. "It tastes like a better Big Mac, honestly."

The decorations and design within the restaurant have special meaning.

"The mural is actually the original Hoexters mural that was painted as the bartender's perspective. My dad's in it in 1977, my grandparents are in it, and all the old Hoexters regulars," Alexandra said. "The second we decided to reopen Hoexters we said of course we're going to hang the original mural and it adds to the magic, that's for sure."

One thing's for sure, the original owners, Alexandra's parents, couldn't be prouder of their daughter's efforts.

"So I'm the mother and this is the father, and in 1980 I met Bobby at the original Hoexters," Laura Shapiro said.

"We never knew if in fact anybody would remember or respond to the fact that this restaurant existed for 10 years in the '70s," Bobby Shapiro said. "And we're getting a lot of people coming in and the legacy of them remembering their great times, good times, I think is one of the things that makes me proudest."

"Every minute of this has felt serendipitous," Alexandra said.

We have a tip for you - ask for their secret French dip sandwich! It's off menu and delicious!