Popovers and Candlelight: Patricia Murphy and the Rise and Fall of a Restaurant Empire
(State University of New York Press)
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. In Popovers and Candlelight, CHNY member Marcia Biederman recounts how Murphy bucked Mad Men–era sexism 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 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.