AN ARTIST BRINGS THE OLD TEACHER’S RESTAURANT BACK TO LIFE

anette oko teachers

Our recent post about the Teacher’s and Teacher’s Too restaurants sparked lots of discussion, and inspired one reader to send us an image of a print on his wall. Teacher’s was on Broadway between 80th and 81st starting in 1969 before Zabar’s expanded into its space; Teacher’s Too was on Broadway between 81st and 82nd before closing in 1996.

Dr. Seth Gopin sent us the photo above of the print, and the explanations below.

I was a patron of the original Teacher’s from the very beginning. On the wall hung a lithograph of Teacher’s which I always admired. When I inquired if it was possible to buy a print, I was told the artist was a waitress there—Annette Oko—and I should ask her.

I began to chat with Annette and learned that she was a very, very talented artist who lived in the neighborhood. What I particularly liked was how much Annette’s work resembled the photorealist artist, Richard Estes, who also loved the UWS—see his Ansonia. Annette explained how much she admired Estes work and that for the Teacher’s print, she used Estes’ printer in Germany.

I promptly bought Annette’s print of Teacher’s and it has hung proudly in my home for over two decades. I only regret not buying more.

Long Live Teacher’s! Brava Annette for keeping the memory of Teacher’s alive!

According to this site, Oko made 100 prints of the image. Interestingly, another artist came out to paint Ouest after it was announced that that restaurant will close. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

HISTORY | 31 comments | permalink
    1. AC says:

      Thanks for sharing! The Dry Cleaners on the South End & Bolton’s on the North, just the way I remember it 🙂

    2. Matt B. says:

      Does anyone remember Marvin Garden across the srteer? Another wonderful place.

    3. Susan says:

      Was there really a Bolton’s there back then? One just opened up on that block.

      I loved both Teacher’s. Also the Copper Hatch (W 72nd – Bway/West End) and the Copper Hatch 2 (Amsterdam/ Upper 70s)

      • AC says:

        Yes, it was the original location of Bolton’s back then. You’re correct, I believe a new one has opened on B’way between 81/82. Back in the 70/80’s, along the West side of B’way, there existed various women clothing stores (Plymouth, Charivari, Town, Bolton’s to name a few). I also remember Beck’s Drug Store, which now serves as the main entrance to Zabar’s.

        • NativeNYer says:

          I read that when John Lennon bought a jacket
          at Charivari he was very proud of the fact that he just walked in, tried it on, it fit, and he purchased it. This simple act was a novelty for him.

    4. Lucien Desar says:

      This is a great illustration!

    5. nelson says:

      The good old days! Charivari…The Works…Ernie’s!

    6. ScooterStan says:

      Re: the article’s final sentence AND its link to a YouTube video of a much younger Joni Mitchell performing her great “Big Yellow Taxi”…

      Thanks a LOT for the “earworm”!

      That tune is now stuck in my head!!

      May have to spend time in the “Earworm Ward”, as depicted in a recent New Yorker cartoon !!!

      🙂

    7. Rick Rodgers says:

      I worked at Teacher’s on and off, for 10 years. To me, the beautiful painting of Teacher’s by Annette Oko is as much a memory as the restaurant itself. Eventually, the cleaner’s left and Zabar’s took that space over, and finally, Teacher’s itself. The Zabars owned the building and gave the owners plenty of time to move, which is why Teacher’s Too began. For a year or so, both places existed until the lease on the first one ran out. Got that? There will be a quiz later.

      • Christina says:

        Yes, Rick. I worked at Teacher’s Too, while Teacher’s was still opened and continued to worked at Teacher’s Too for a number of years after the original closed. I don’t know if we ever ran into each other during that time. Mind’s a little fuzzy about people from the original Teacher’s. As I stated in another comment, I worked with Oko ( as we used to call her. I hardly ever called her by her first name) for many years.

      • Orin Kotula says:

        Hi Rick. I just saw your cookbook about pressure cooking and googled you. And now again I come across you. Coming upon this article was such a pleasant surprise and then reading the words of fans of Annette and Teacher’s encourages my melancholy.

    8. Laurence P. Mitchell says:

      I recently toured Ms. Oko’s residence whose heirs had recently put on the market. In a small room was the original painting in all its glory. I wonder what fate has planned for this iconic image.

      • Peter says:

        the original painting of teacher’s too was delivered to one of the original partners apartment…this happened after they closed, because of the fire…the only reason I know this is because I was the manager at the time and personally delivered it

        • Joy Poonpoolpoke says:

          Hi Peter,
          I was wondering if there was any chance you might contact me to let me know how I can track down this painting? (or the prints etc). I’m Sam Poonpoolpoke’s daughter. He was the exec chef at teacher’s and teacher’s too.

          my email is dragon joy 23 at jee male dot com

    9. John S says:

      Now can you find the Tip Toe Inn? Or am I dating myself too much.

      • Susan says:

        Tip toe in was on the west side of 86th and Broadway, I remember it as a very good restaurant, but its counterpart was the C & L restaurant on 74 th street where fairway is now. My family were regulars. The food was great.

    10. Christina says:

      Annette Oko!!! She was a great artist! Worked with her for many years at Teacher’s Too! She was very supportive of my art endeavours and a very wise woman. RIP xoxo

      • Emily says:

        I also worked at Teachers Too for a few years. Waited on the Stillers and Jo Van Fleet. I got fired because I was a terrible waitress but I have many fond memories of my time there.

    11. Michael Oko says:

      Thanks for posting this Seth. There have been a flurry of posts on this site and on Facebook (check out the “growing up on the old Upper West Side” group). As one of Annette’s sons, it’s very heartwarming to see this post – and to feel the outpouring of memories for Teacher’s (and Teacher’s Too) where she worked for about 20 years. Sadly, Annette passed away in 2013, but nice to see her work lives on.

      • Orin Kotula says:

        Michael,
        Came upon this article by accident and found your comment. When I pass 236 West 101, I wonder what is happening there and , I guess, I just found out. It is on the market.

    12. Ronnie Tuft says:

      Is Annette Oko still alive? And if so, where is she now?

      • Christina says:

        No, Annette Oko passed away a couple of years ago. As her son also Michael mentioned in a comment above yours.

    13. Marc says:

      Does anyone remember the Front Porch Restaurant?

      • Orin Kotula says:

        I worked there very briefly but spent years working at Teacher’s. It is great to read about the old UWS on this blog . As a very experienced waitron, I did not like it when they asked me to clean the bathroom after we finished.

        • Orin Kotula says:

          To clarify my comment: I was asked to clean the bathroom after we finished with our shift. I had forgotten about my brief stint at the Front Porch. I think the original Front Porch as in the West Village.

    14. Bill B says:

      I also worked at Teacher’s Too in ’91, with Annette, among other great people, and as I recall she was working on a painting of Teacher’s Too. Does anyone recall seeing it?

    15. Bill B says:

      And thanks for the mention of Jo Van Fleet. She was a regular and was a little out of sorts in ’91. She would sometimes stiff the waiter/waitress.

    16. Neil says:

      Ahhh Teachers Too..remember it well. Worked for many years and recognize some names here. So sorry to hear about Oko,worked with her actually felt like i worked for her. Can still feel her cold stare when her section was empty. Met amazing people there thru the years…nice to come across this little ditty.

    17. Bob Hall says:

      Sorry to hear that Annette has passed on. She was a wonderful painter, a delightful waitress and a friend. Every once in a while we would wander up to The Shark Bar after Teacher’s closed. She was one of the people who made the neighborhood a neighborhood.