The All the Restaurants in New York book is a gorgeous gift idea for anyone who has nostalgia for the Big Apple. And now, artist John Donohue, previously an editor for The New Yorker, is selling prints on his website, alltherestaurants.com. You can search for your favorites, or he can create something custom! Dad to two teenage girls, John has always given part of his proceeds to charities like City Harvest, and is currently giving back to restaurants workers struggling during the pandemic. We spoke to John about his artwork, how to order for the holidays and more.
How did this fabulous idea for a book (and prints) come about?
I’m a former editor at The New Yorker and in 2011 I published “Man with a Pan,” an anthology about dads who cook for their families featuring essays by Mark Bittman, Stephen King, Mark Kurlansky, Jim Harrison, and many others. It was reviewed in the Times and after a mention in GOOP the week of Father’s Day briefly hit the best-seller list! When I started drawing restaurants, doing a book was a natural choice. I got really lucky in getting selected by Abrams for a series of books about New York, London, and Paris.
So amazing. And what inspired you to give back to restaurant workers during the pandemic?
My heart just broke in March when I saw what was happening to restaurants and I knew I had to do something immediately. The response has been very positive. People really miss their favorite places and want to help. I’m grateful to be a conduit for doing good.
You’ve published one gorgeous book—is another one in the works?
My New York book is the first in a series from Abrams. Up next is “A Table in Paris,” my collection of drawings from the City of Light, which I got to visit twice in the summer of 2019. The book is due out March 23, 2021, just in time for a virtual April in Paris!
Congratulations! You must have heard some touching stories from clients who have ordered prints that mean something special to them. Can you share any highlights?
Absolutely. I’ve had customers as far away as South Africa and Singapore as well as Europe. People occasionally let me know why they made a purchase. One man early on commissioned me to draw three places. The restaurant where he and his wife had their first date. The one where they got married. And their regular place they used to visit with their young children before they left Brooklyn.
Love that. Do you have a personal favorite print?
The first one, of the Odeon! I still remember where I stood. I picked it to start with because to me that’s where dining as we now think of it really originated.
Why are these prints so perfect in terms of the nostalgia we all need right now?
I started this project in part to connect people to each other and their good memories. That was always important, but now that we can’t go out and some of us have actually left the city for good and other places have sadly left business forever those connections are paramount.
How can people order and when is the ordering deadline for the holidays?
You can order on my site at https://alltherestaurants.com/ Shipping deadlines are in flux because of the pandemic. My printer has instituted new procedures to keep his staff safe and everything takes a bit longer than usual. That said, prints will be going out within a couple of weeks of ordering. For holiday gifts I have a nice feature that people love. I can email you a custom one sheet with the image and a bit of text about the series that can be printed at home, rolled up, and tied with a ribbon. It makes a perfect placeholder gift until the signed prints arrive. You can get the email sheet right up to the day before any holiday!
Sounds great. Anything else you’d like to share?
Drawing connects me to a better part of myself, and I’m grateful that people find such joy in my work and help me sustain my drawing practice. Thank you!