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Restaurants Are Home to Our Best Memories
John Donohue draws the spots where we've broken bread with family and friends
Dining out is so much more than the act of going somewhere for a meal.
Restaurants are the homes of memories — the place where we celebrate and laugh with friends. Restaurants are the scenes of first dates — where we begin love affairs that could change the course of our lives. We get engaged over Champagne-fueled candlelit dinners (and sometimes break up in the harsh fluorescent light of a diner over coffee). We have brunch with mom, mark birthdays, and commemorate graduations.
And, while we will all go to many restaurants in our lifetimes, some become cherished destinations because of their association with our memories.
John Donohue commemorates those moments by drawing restaurant facades. His current works include restaurants in New York City, Paris, and Napa Valley, offered as limited-edition signed prints.
Donohue tells Broken Palate he started drawing earnestly in 2016. “I discovered drawing is really good for me. I started drawing things in the kitchen. I drew my dishrack.” Donohue, who is also a writer and editor, got the idea to draw restaurants after editing “Man With a Pan,” an anthology of stories of men who cook. He thought: What would happen if I started drawing restaurants?
Donohue’s first drawing was of the iconic Odeon in Tribeca and launched his All the Restaurants website in 2017. “The site has taken a life of its own,” says the artist.
Donohue says that all his restaurants are drawn from real life and the moment. “I stand in front of the place and I don’t do any corrections,” he says of the process.
The artist says people buy his work mostly as a reminder of a time and a place. “It’s where they had a first date, closed a big deal, or went with their dad. There’s a memory around the restaurant they choose.”
The prints are also intentionally limited to 365 each, says Donohue. “It’s a beautiful reminder of how our days are numbered.”
Starting at $55, they make the perfect last-minute holiday gift.
If purchased, gifters will be sent an automatic link to a PDF of the restaurant they purchased, which can be downloaded, rolled into a scroll, and tied with a ribbon for immediate gifting. The actual high-quality print will arrive in a few weeks, allowing your friend or family member to think of your generosity once again.
As a born and bred New Yorker and longtime restaurant lover, I’m drawn to his drawing of Joe Allen, where I spent many an evening with a glass of wine after performing in an Off-Broadway show called “Murdered by the Mob” for many years. (You can guess why my writing career lasted longer than my stage career.)
Which restaurant speaks to you?