Thursday, February 11, 2010

☞ WALK: The Red Rooster of Harlem

Since we weren't around at the time of the legendary Harlem speakeasy establishments, hearing about The Red Rooster revival as a restaurant by Marcus Samuelsson had us digging for more information on the place. Some sources say that the little club on ACP/7th Avenue, at the southwest corner of 138th Street was around since the early 1900's. The space that was one step down in the ground floor commercial storefront on the outskirts of the Striver's Row nabe was apparently open until the 1980's. Many folks in Harlem used to frequent the spot and among them, Adam Clayton Powell was a particularly well known patron. The top photo shows the corner of 138th Street at 2354 ACP/7th Avenue and the roll-down gated doorway to the far right would have been the entrance to the original The Red Rooster. The second image is a general listing of the lounge in 1963 showing the address. Chef Marcus Samuelsson always admired the wide boulevards of Harlem and its history so maybe he will select a space on ACP for his new incarnation of The Red Rooster. Read about the new restaurant in our previous post: LINK.


  1. Yes. I remember going there as a kid. My dad was a frequent patron. He was Adam Powell's attorney, and that was a regular watering hole.

  2. I believe that the Original Red Rooster was a bar/restaurant located on 125th street a few doors down from the Victoria Theatre. It was known for it window that was a broadcast booth and broadcasted a nightly radio show. I think Hal Jackson was one of the Jocks who broadcasted from there.

  3. Hey Hank, do you remember Sams a Chinese Restaurant a few door away from the bar?

    The best tasting Chinese food after a night of Cocktails.

  4. We found a couple of old articles from the 1950's and 1960's referencing 138th Street and 7th Avenue as the location of the Red Rooster. The final clue was an old 1960's magazine clipping from Ebony with the address that confirms the 2354 7th Avenue address. Maybe a new incarnation opened up on 125th Street in later years as did the Cotton Club.

  5. Sankofa,

    I do not remember that. The only thing I remember is the chop suey place across the street. But really no one in my family at that time was a chinese food lover and I was just a kid.

  6. Oh, and at least in the late 60's the red rooster was definitely not on125th. It was in the location shown in the picture.

  7. Thank you guys for setting me straight, I was thinking about the Palm's Cafe on 125th Street.

  8. Can anyone tell me about the Palm's Cafe from 125th Street? Aparently my family has been inquiring about the establisment with little luck for about 10 years. If anyone can guide me to some historical information regarding it that would be great. Shoot me an email at


  9. I really appreciate this remembrance of The Red Rooster. I am amazed that there seem not to be ANY images of The Rooster on the Internet!!! (Or Jock's Place, either.)

    I have many fond childhood memories of my Dad taking me there for lunch in the ’50′s when I went with him to his jewelry store on 7th Avenue.

    [@Hank: Very likely our dads were acquaintances. Do any of these names ring a bell as acquaintances of your Dad? DePasse, Horne, Bancroft. Durant, Hammerstein, Paddy Palma? They were my Dad's acquaintances. How about Jimmy, the waiter at the Rooster?]

    Re: the photo.
    My VERY strong recollection is that the entrance to the Rooster was actually on 138th St, not 7th Avenue. No doubt about it.

    When you stepped down along the metal railing (facing east) into the entrance to the Rooster (on the 138th St side) and turned to your right, there was a huge mural-size photo of George Woods, the owner - I was told - of the Rooster, an elegant looking Black man striding down what looked like an avenue in Harlem wearing riding boots and with a "brace" of dogs, which looked like greyhounds or some similar "unusual" breed straining at the leash.

    Search Google for “Red Rooster George Woods” and you’ll find some references to him in Jet Magazine...and a couple photos of him.


  10. I sang at the Red Rooster in late '79-early '80 with Bucky Thorpe, a trumpet player who had Don Pullen on organ (he played piano with Mingus), plus the great Ted Dunbar or Roland Prince on guitar and Bobby Battle on drums. Buster, a numbers banker, owned it, and his daughter, whom he was putting through an Ivy League school, was manager. Four nights a week, live jazz with horn players looking hopeful next to their cases, hoping to sit in... on our breaks we'd listen to the music next door or across the street. In addition to Jock's there was another place I can't remember the name of. Amazing gig