Popovers and Candlelight

Patricia Murphy and the Rise and Fall of a Restaurant Empire

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Table of contents


1. Truth or Dare

2. Patricia of Avalon

3. New Girl

4. On the Heights

5. Remodeling

6. War

7. Love

8. Schism in the Suburbs

9. The Crown Jewel
gallery of photos follows page

10. Revenge

11. Spinning to a Stop

12. Grieve. Drink. Expand.

13. Where the Yachts Are

14. Storm over the Marina

15. Manhattan Transfer

16. Desperate Measures

17. Ignominy

18. The Party’s Over

Selected Bibliography

Recounts the true story of an entrepreneurial woman who succeeded in a male-dominated industry in the twentieth century.


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. Popovers and Candlelight 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 Marcia 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.

Marcia Biederman teaches English as a Second Language at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, and has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times.


"A snappy, well-researched account of a trailblazing woman. " — Kirkus Reviews

"…a new can't-put-it-down book by Marcia Biederman … Enjoy the read!" — Palm Beach Daily News

"An impressive accomplishment on many counts: Biederman describes an important but forgotten chapter in mid-century restaurant history, portrays an outsize, Mildred Pierce–like personality, and gives a memorable sense of postwar, populuxe suburbia. " — Paul Freedman, author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America