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Queens Chronicle

O’Keefe’s ‘homestyle’restaurant

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:30 am

In 1934, after the sale of alcohol became legal again, Arthur J. O’Keefe, a widower, decided to turn his home at 59-28 Little Neck Parkway into an inn. At that time the only businesses for blocks around were Joe’s Riding Academy, located at 54-47 and Alfred Allen’s Greenhouse at 54-40 Little Neck Parkway.

O’Keefe was lucky that the zoning where he lived allowed him to go commercial. Years later, to add a touch of class, he changed the name from O’Keefe’s Inn to the Arthur J. O’Keefe Restaurant. He adorned the eatery with photographs of his favorite movie stars and other entertainers, such as Kate Smith, Judy Garland, Joan Davis and Bing Crosby, to name a few. It’s unknown if any of them ever came to the restaurant, but their photos added a mystique.

Being a widower, O’Keefe had Cyril Churella, the waiter, and John Braun, his chef, who was born in Hungary, live with him upstairs as lodgers.

When he turned 65, O’Keefe sold the business and it became La Vie En Rose, a French restaurant, for the next 31 years. In the 1980s the owner, a Mr. Monte, sold it, and it became Attilio’s Restaurant. Today the quaint house houses CAPE, the Community Advisory Program for the Elderly, a service of the Samuel Field Y affiliated with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, according to the signs on the door.

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