THROWBACK THURSDAY: AN OLD RESTAURANT SIGN PEEKS OUT FROM BEHIND MCDONALD’S FACADE

teachers
Photo by Kevin Ashton.

McDonald’s on Broadway between 81st and 82nd street closed this week and the sign is already down, revealing the ghost letters of a former occupant, the former restaurant Teacher’s Too. Teacher’s Too and its predecessor Teacher’s were Upper West Side mainstays from 1969 to the late 90’s.

In 1996, a fire and a rent increase forced Teacher’s Too to close. At the time, rents on Broadway had started to rise after Barnes and Noble and Filene’s moved in. Of course, those rents were still miniscule compared to rents now.

If you have memories of Teacher’s let us know in the comments!

NEWS | 58 comments | permalink
    1. Christina says:

      Wow! Teacher’s Too! Miss that place sooo much. Worked there as a hostess for 6 or 7 years mid 80’s til early 90’s! It was our neighborhood “Cheers” and very good food. I was so pissed when McDonalds took over the space!

      • Christina says:

        Thai Beef Salad, Chicken Gai Yang, Chicken Sate, Pad Thai, Great Burgers, and brunches with H&H bagels on the tables!

      • Joy Poonpoolpoke says:

        Hi everyone!
        I loved Teacher’s and Teacher’s Too. My dad is Sam Poonpoolpoke. He was the Executive Chef and very good friend of Murray the original owner of the 2 restaurants. I have tons of memories growing up of those 2 places. Does anyone remember me? I suppose there were many little asian Thai girls who were daughters of employees there but my dad was pretty much in charge of the entire kitchen from early 70’s til early 90’s so I was seen going into the kitchen or eating in the dining room throughout those 20 years. I remember asking the waitresses if I could eat the pats of butter. I know that sounds weird but back then my mom used to make me butter sugar sandwiches using chunks of butter! haha. i remember one waitress actually gave me an entire sheet of that butter!
        I have so many stories. Like when my dad got to meet so many different movie stars while working there. He once met Sean Connery in the bathroom! My dad is the biggest James Bond fan and used to watch all the movies while growing up in Thailand. I can’t imagine what that’s like, to get to shake James Bond’s hand after you stroll into the bathroom where you work?! And this was right after Sean Connery made his last James Bond movie. (I’m pretty sure my dad washed his hands every single time he leaves the bathroom so don’t worry! haha. my dad was strict as hell. still is actually.)

    2. Marsha says:

      Excellent Chicken Gai Yang and cucumber salad. I still miss both places. Great neighborhood joints.

    3. Danny says:

      Teachers was the Cheers of the UWS.
      It was a place where everybody knew your name.
      The food was great, the atmosphere was amazing, the bar was a great hang out, and the staff and the managers were memorable.
      I can’t think of a spot that more crystallized the heartbeat of the Westide than Teachers, and Teachers Too.

      • Christina says:

        Very well said Danny! It was a great place to work as well. Great people. Even Murray with his crotchety ways is missed. I never got his wrath as some other staff members have. Thank goodness! 🙂

      • PattyFab says:

        Actually the Allstate was the Cheers of the UWS. That’s where he got the idea.

    4. Susan says:

      My friend and I were regulars at both Teachers. When the children were in bed and our husbands came home, we would go to teachers for our favorite appetizers
      and dessert. One year we helped to dress the window for Christmas. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was comforting.

    5. Barbara Adler says:

      We need a restaurant like Teachers to come back! Good food, relaxed, so friendly, red & white checked tablecloths, and all the neighbors were there, too.

    6. J says:

      Oh, and the raspberry yoghurt pie — to die for!!!

    7. Carolyn in Hawaii says:

      I was a “fairly” Regular at the original Teachers. Interesting bar crowd of neighborhood business owners as Bloomsday Books, Writers and Editers, and average UWS neighbors at that time. I believe the manager Murray may have actually been the owner. Great bar food and oysters Rockafeller.

      • joy poonpoolpoke says:

        Yes, Murray was the owner and manager of both Teacher’s and Teacher’s Too until he died. Then his son took over Teacher’s Too. Oyster’s Rockefeller was my favorite!! I always asked my dad to bring some home after work. That and the chocolate mousse!

    8. stephen seibt says:

      is McD closed for good? It waS always packed!

    9. MaryJo says:

      I visited NY in 1991 and the first restaurant I dined in was Teachers Too. In 1997, I moved to the city and I chose the UWS largely because I loved the vibe of the people I met at Teachers Too that night. I was horrified to find it replaced by a McDonald’s, but it set the tone for the restaurants I chose for the next 13 years….neighborhood spots with regulars and good, reasonable food.

    10. Judy Harris says:

      Rents must be horrible if even McDonald’s is forced to close!

    11. John Haracopos says:

      Teachers Too; Pork Chops & Martini’s!!!

    12. harriet says:

      OMG. I had my first date with my husband at Teachers Too in November 1983. I had mussels and he had short ribs. I came home and told my roommate that the only problem was that my couch would probably not fit into his apartment. The rest is history…

    13. AC says:

      WOW, I remember that place vividly!

      Reminds me of the 70/80’s and the restaurants that were “in” back then.

      Time Café
      Marvin’s Garden
      Copper Hatch
      Ernie’s
      Amsterdam’s

      Would love for it to be 1977, just for one day to walk up B’way!

      • Harriet says:

        And I had my SECOND date with my husband-to-be at The Copper Hatch. I had forgotten the name until you mentioned it. Thanks for the memories.

      • UWS Maven says:

        Let’s not forget the wonderful Dobson’s at 77th and Columbus (which is why I like Fred’s so much, I think), Gleason’s at 79th and Columbus, and who here remembers the “Cherry Restaurant” on Columbus as well, a Japanese luncheonette?

        • Bill says:

          Thank goodness for the Cherry … a lifesaver when we tumbled out of the Wildwood bar across the street at 2:00am.

      • karen g. says:

        I agree/ would love to time travel back, but sometimes when i’m visiting UWS now, if i walk with my eyes closed for even a few seconds to shut out the present, i find that the smells and the sounds are just the same as when i was 24, and in love and dancing down Broadway after a night of drinking at the WestEnd Bar.

    14. Ira says:

      wasnt there one strange cult group that use to meet at Teacher’s, they had everyone disown their parents, etc.

    15. MJ says:

      I for one am happy to see McDonalds go. That place was so gross inside and out. Would absolutely LOVE a Murray’s Bagels to move in!

      On a side note UWS-ers, what’s your favorite bagel place in the nabe?

    16. Helaine says:

      I think of Teachers every spring around this time. They had the best sautéed soft shelled crabs ever.

    17. Bob says:

      I remember teacher’s too and the fire. I even remember the Italian restaurant that replaced it- polistina’s. ( I believe this was the same space.)

      By the way, that was one of the worst McDonald’s on earth. I don’t know if it closed due to rent or because it sucked but corporate natural selection did occur.

    18. adam says:

      McD’s isn’t closing because they can’t afford to pay the rent. They are scaling back as part of broader trend of slowing growth due to rise of better quality fast food i.e. Chipotle, etc

      • Stephen says:

        McDonalds are usually francisees and need each outlet to stand alone.
        So with less McDonalds demand and rising rent the decision to close this franchise location was likely made by franchisee.

      • van says:

        better quality??? I see several Chipoltes have been closed by the health dept

    19. beholder says:

      Re: McDonalds.
      Whatever rises must subside, thankfully. I do hope the same fate awaits the glut of Verizons, CVSs, Duane Reads. The pendulum law at works, finally! Chains out, individual in. “Who would’f thunk…”

    20. Tom says:

      Perfect spot for a Five Guys burger joint!?!

      • Joy Poonpoolpoke says:

        oh gawd I hope not. actually I would love to re-open Teacher’s Too if I had the means to do it. I still know almost all the old Thai chefs that used to work there. (and of course I would consult my dad on everything since the entire menu and recipes were my dad’s.)
        My dad opened a Thai Restaurant down in Georgia and ran it from 2000 til last week. He just moved to Thailand for retirement Aug 4th, 2015.
        I still live in NYC.

    21. e says:

      We used to go there all the time before or after Symphony Space events, and followed by a browse at Shakespeare & Co. My mom will especially remember the time she got a plate of some hollondaise sauced-vegetable spilled all over her. I think my sister and I usually got fettucine alfredo.

    22. pat says:

      I live nearby and remember Teachers well. Still miss it as well as some other restaurants from that immediate area. Those were the days my friend.

    23. Randi says:

      Wow…great memories! Miss the “old” UWS

    24. John says:

      I lived on 79th and Amsterdam for most of the 80’s. My girlfiend who became my wife and mother of my child was a long time waiter at Teacher’s and Teacher’s Too. It was a great local restaurant, not to expensive and not too fru fru in the menu. Just great continental/american food and a mainstain neighborhood restaurant. Anne and Jerry and Ben and Amy ate there most Sunday nights and many other notables. But we were all West Siders. The neighborhood hasn’t been the same since.

      • Christina says:

        John what is your wife’s name? I probably know her. I worked at Teacher’s Too as a hostess for many years- mid 80’s til early 90’s.I knew the Stillers pretty well.

      • Christina says:

        Amy Stiller worked at Teacher’s Too for a little bit.

        • joy poonpoolpoke says:

          Oh how weird. I bumped into Ben Stiller in 2005 while walking down the sidewalk of Madison Ave. My dad (Sam) probably didn’t know who the Stillers were back then so he never told me they were regulars. Haha, I could have mentioned my dad was the guy who cooked his meals at Teacher’s and Teacher’s Too!! But instead all I did was stare at him while I strolled down the street.
          Does anyone know or remember which celebrities came in to eat there? My dad only told me about Daryl Hannah, Sean Connery and Al Pacino.
          I’m writing a book and I’m including things like Teacher’s, Teacher’s Too, the restaurant behind the scenes, the Thai-immigrant experience etc etc.

    25. Leah says:

      I’m 31 and have only lived on the UWS for three years. Before reading these lovely comments, the only view I had of the old Upper West Side was from You’ve Got Mail. Thank you for sharing your memories! I definitely picked the right neighborhood to plant roots.

    26. Maeda B says:

      Teachers had the best duck and, in season,soft shell crab I’ve ever had. Nostalgia? Possibly,but not likely.

    27. Danielle says:

      I remember Teacher’s Too being my “go to” place for eating out. If my mom and I didn’t know what we wanted for dinner, we would go to Teacher’s Too and have a delicious meal. I have especially fond memories of the praline ice cream cake I would always have for dessert!

      • manhattan mark says:

        Teacher’s and Teacher’s Too were the best all purpose
        restaurants on the Westside in the last seven decades and
        their closings were our greatest losses. By the way, the
        praline ice cream cake is still available by special order from
        Herb Grossinger, the original supplier of the cake to Teacher’s. We still order it for special occasiona…and it’s
        still the best ever.

        • Carolyn Pellett says:

          How do you get Grossinger’s Praline Cake now?
          Other Hangouts “Back in the Day”: Tap-a-Keg, Museum Cafe, The Only Child, Shelter, Marvin’s Gardens, West End Cafe (Mr. Goodbar, bar) Copper Hatch II, Gleason’s, ?…..

          remember restaurants La Tablita, Captain Nemo’s, Le Bistro Monmarte, Julia!s, Panarella, Hisae’s, Don Pepe’, Indian Oven, all of the Hunan (fill in the blank) restaurants, and all the Japanese restaurants lining Columbus in the hi 60’s to mid 70’s?

    28. Andrew says:

      As the son of one of the owners, I have many fond memories of great food, great drinks, terrific energy, Murray,a true character (RIP)…especially when that part of the west side was not so tony. The soft shell crabs were fabulous and the Thai chef made some of the best Thai food in the city.

    29. Rick Rodgers says:

      I worked at Teacher’s for about 10 years as the front of the house manager, practically from the first day I came to NYC until my catering and food writing career took off. Teacher’s was certainly “Cheers,” and more. It was where I met the wonderful Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, and I ended up cooking for their family at their UWS apartment. It was where I met my husband, 35 years ago. Also in that time frame, my friend and agent Susan met her husband, and he proposed (with me as the waiter) by talking me into hiding the engagement ring in her Cornish hen! The chef, Sammy, introduced many Thai dishes that are common now–chicken gai yaang, pork satĂ©, beef salad–but his Western cooking was sensational, too. Some of you must remember his cod Dijonnaise. The celebrity watching at Teacher’s was almost as good as the food. I remember Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson, Charles Durning, William Hurt, the Met mezzo Tatiana Troyanos, and countless others, as regulars. And the generous Weiser family, who owned Charivari and kept me well dressed (when I had a 32-inch waist!) I have often said that I should write a book about my Teacher’s years…and I just might. I’ll have to clean up the story about Keith Richard’s midnight bouillabaisse. Thank you to one of Teacher’s owners, Ernie Bogen (of Ernie’s) for passing this on to me.

    30. Jo Ann Kranis says:

      Loved Teachers,too (and Teachers). The atmosphere was casual and pleasant, it was close to home, and while it wasn’t going to get 5 stars in any gourmet competition, the food was always good and the choices were varied enough to accommodate your entire group.

    31. AT says:

      What a fun thread to read. I have walked by a few times and seen the old teachers too signage but initially assumed it was a book store or something like that. Sounds like it was a great institution in the neighborhood and I enjoyed everyone’s recollections!

    32. Croz says:

      Teachers Too was my first taste of Thai food, and I was hooked. I was visiting a friend in NYC in the early 80s who took me there, and the Chicken Gai Yang opened a new world for me. I am still looking for the ideal Gai Yang recipe, but this article helped to remind me of the name of the restaurant in that long ago memory.

    33. UWSider says:

      I remember the Teachers restaurants and Hanrattys. Reasonably good food, atmosphere was OK>

    34. Malcolm Wise says:

      Love seeing this old photos of old stores & eating spots that used to be in business when I was born on the upper west side back in 1981.