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Serendipity 3 NYC – A Sweet Place for a Fffrozen Chocolate Treat since 1954 Life is short, eat dessert first!

Posted on: January 11, 2017

  • Serendipity 3: New York, New York
  • website:
  • address: 225 East 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues New York, NY 10022
  • phone: (212) 838-3531

Mod Betty is such a creature of her times, that when she first visited Serendipity 3 in New York City (circa 1983) she thought it might be a new place playing up a vintage vibe. Ah, what a young’un I was.

Serendipity 3 New York City- Retro Roadmap

Much to my chagrin I had no idea at the time that this landmark cafe/confectionery has been rocking the eclectic and artsy victorian/vintage signs/found art look since 1954!

The word serendipity is one I have a great fondness for definition-wise “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”  However, the reason this restaurant is so named, is because of the the tale of the Three Princes of Serendip – aka the 3 owners: Stephen Bruce, Calvin Holt and Patch Carradine.

According to the wonderfully written fairy-tale-like story on their History page, each of the 3 men came to New York City with dreams of fame in showbiz but instead they combined their talents to create a coffee house and sweet shop that would cement their legends in the history of New York City. (While Calvin and Patch have sadly passed, Stephen Bruce is still with us.)

Serendipity 3 New York City- Retro Roadmap

Decorating their tiny cafe Victorian era cast-offs, they gave a fresh perspective into what was at that time considered outdated, fuddy-duddy decor, contrasting them against bright white walls, ceiling and floor. Discarded signs, clocks and mirrors grouped on the walls lent a bohemian air, counterpointing nicely to the clean Atomic Age lines we’re familiar with when we think of the decor of the 1950s.

Just imagine in the era of the Nelson bubble lamp, to suddenly festoon your shop with colorful stained glass! Isn’t it just like a true Creative to make something old and out of vogue look hip again.

Serendipity 3 - New York City - Retro Roadmap

Quickly Serendipity became the go-to place for ad men, magazine editors and up-and-coming artists, most famously Andy Warhol  (click here to see a photo of Warhol at Serendipity 3) and celebrities by the score. Though not at its original location, when you enter you’ll still find a colorful collection of bentwood chairs filled with patrons basking in the glow of the tiffany lampshades that crowd the white tin ceiling.

Celebrities and celeb gawkers to this day still flock here, so waits are expected to be long. However sometimes the stars align in your favor and the folks ahead of you on the list have abandoned hopes of dining here, leaving you to be next in the door. Serendipitous? It happened to us.

The menu is sprawling – physically bigger than the tiny table we were seated at, but also filled with a wide range of offerings, from foot long hotdogs  to a $1000 Guinness Book of World Records sundae. Prices aren’t cheap, but portions are huge.

Serendipity 3 New York City- Retro Roadmap

Harkening back to the summer day Mod Betty visited Serendipity in her youth, I had my tastebuds set on their famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. A bit of a sundae, a bit of an icy chocolate drink, too big for one gal but I did some damage with the help of Retro Roadhusband.

As I sat there in a sugar induced euphoria, I was surprised upon reflection to realize how many years, nay decades had gone by since last I had visited here, and how quickly these days seem to pass. It did not hurt that I was here as part of my birthday celebration, for me to think about where my life had been, and where life is heading, but I can tell you – don’t wait for your birthday to get here. Life is short, eat dessert first!

Mod Betty at Serendipity 3 New York City- Retro Roadmap

A personal P.S.  – My dad was a big Mobil gas guy, as his dad and my uncle worked for them, and he was a big chocolate lover, so I could not help but feel he was with me that day based on where we were seated. Serendipity again 🙂