Seinfeld fans who want to re-create their favorite scenes in Monk’s coffee shop need only travel to Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It won’t look familiar on the inside, but the blue and red neon wrapping the corner will let them know they’re in the right place.
Tom’s Restaurant, or the façade anyway, located on Broadway at 112th Street near Columbia University, stood in for the fictional “Monk’s” on the show. Although the walls are now covered with Seinfeld memorabilia, when the images of the exterior were first taken for the show (including the “Tom’s” part of the name, which was later cropped out), the owner’s sons asked what they were for. The response: “It’s just for some pilot.”
Since the 1940s, like many diners in New York, Tom’s has been in the hands of the same Greek-American family. It’s a diner-style eatery, with classic menu items like burgers, fries, BLTs, and milkshakes. It’s a frequent stop for Columbia students and their parents, even hosting Senator John McCain and his daughter Meghan when she was attending the university.
Seinfeld was not the diner’s first brush with show business. In 1978, it was seen in an episode of The Bionic Woman, and in 1982 Suzanne Vega wrote about it in the song Tom’s Diner. It has also been featured as part of “Kramer’s Reality Tour,” run by Kenny Kramer, the inspiration for Jerry’s neighbor. And for one last Seinfeld hurrah, in 2014 it was used to film a Super Bowl commercial, featuring Jerry, George, and Jerry’s nemesis… Hello, Newman!