252 W. 46th Street, New York, NY 10036
(between 8th and Broadway)
Family-owned Times Square Theater District French bistro restaurant serving customer for more than 50 years. NYC Restaurant Rating: A.
Closed Sunday and Monday
January 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of Pergola Des Artistes as a family run restaurant in the heart of Times Square. It will delight your taste buds and make you feel at home with its cozy dining room. Stop in for dinner or lunch and become a part of the Times Square tradition.
Marie and Jacques Ponsolle came to America in 1950, from the tiny town of Cominac in France. They spoke no English, had no money, knew no one, and had nowhere to go. But they were eager to work and they got jobs as helpers in restaurant kitchens. People laugh at them because they got to work so early and stayed so late and because they even worked on their days off.
Jacques became a waiter and then a captain in fine French restaurants and he studied the restaurant business with a passion. Marie kept working, too, and every week they put away a little money. "One day," Jacques would whisper to Marie, "we will have our place."
In 1962, they counted their money and decided it was time. They tramped the town looking for a suitable site - a good location but something within their meager means - and finally settled for a place at 252 W. 46th Street, a place where a handful of other restaurants had tried and failed.
They went into a partnership with a chef and applied for a license. The day before the license was granted, the chef backed out saying he didn't think they'd catch on in time. So the Ponsolles raised more money to cover his share and went on alone.
They found the place wasn't in as good condition as they had thought - the plumbing went to pieces, the electrical system seemed to violate every fire law, the kitchen had to have a ventilating system installed. They raised more money, and they did a lot of the work themselves, and finally, deep in debt opened their restaurant, Pergola Des Artistes.
They engaged another chef and Marie helped in the cooking. The first week there were virtually no customers. Nonetheless, a stickup man appeared and went after the $40 in the cash register. Jacques was so enraged that he fought the hood and held him until the police came. Three days later a drain broke and flooded the basement, ruined food stored there and washed the labels off all the wine bottles. Jacques and Marie spent a full day gluing them back.
Pergola Des Artistes is now run by Christian Ponsolle, Marie and Jacques' son. In 1991, Christian became the owner and manager of the restaurant. He still continues to run the restaurant with the help of Marie, his brother Laurent, and his nephew Christopher.