Maureen Donohue-Peters, 53, got a call from a lawyer after Asian art collector Robert Ellsworth passed away, informing that her “something” had been left to her in his will.
“I said ‘Oh my God!’. I did not expect anything. He’s a very generous man, he’s always been good to everybody,” Donohue-Peters said about Ellsworth, a patron at Donohue’s Steak House for more than half a century.
Ellsworth left $100,000 to be split between Donohue-Peters and her 28-year-old niece Maureen Barrie.
Donohue’s is an institution in Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side.
Its darkened dining room, wood-paneled walls and red tablecloths hearken back to an earlier era in traditional American dining, and the restaurant draws a loyal customer base.
“It’s a big extended family,” Donohue-Peters said.
Ellsworth was a renowned collector and seller of Asian art with a penchant for generosity.
He donated some $22 million worth of Asian paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1986, according to local media. The New York Post estimated he had a fortune of around $200 million.
The art collector was a customer at the steak house from the beginning, he befriended Donohue-Peters’ father after the restaurant opened in 1950, the waitress said.
After that, Ellsworth dined at the restaurant religiously, eventually becoming close to Donohue-Peters when she took over in 2000, waiting tables at the same time.
“He had always a smile in his face. He always got the same food, same drink,” Donohue-Peters said.
“I would give anything to have him back. No amount of money can replace him,” she said. -AFP