New York Health Department Plays Grinch to Algonquin Hotel Beloved Cat

‘Tis the holiday season, a time for fun and good cheer when all are friends and kindness fills the air.

Or should be…

In what can only be called a ‘cat-astrophe’, the New York City Health Department apparently forgot to refer to their calendar when they recently banned the Algonquin's ‘direcfurr of guest relations’, the beautiful kitty Matilda III from many sections of this historic hotel.

Now certainly the Health Department has a valuable job to do but perhaps this is an overreaction to a tradition that since the 1930s has harmed no one.

Matilda, the Algonquin's famed cat, is part of a proud line of feline greeters who have been delighting guests since the first kitty was welcomed, cold and hungry, out of a stormy night by the hotel's compassionate owner Frank Case.

Honored by no less than the actor John Barrymore with the names “Hamlet” or “Matilda”, depending on their sex, the current kitty can now only grace the registration area – and only while on a leash.

All these restrictions are thanks to the NYC Health Department’s grumpy ‘grinch-y’ attitude during a season of supposed cheer and good well.

Surely the ghosts of such legendary literarties as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Mark Conley, Edna Ferber and George F. Kaufman, all members of the Hotel’s famed Round Table, would object to such an injustice against a noble kitty who is dedicated to the very spirit of a warm welcome and a gentle purr. 

One can hope that amidst all the glorious sparkle and glitter that typifies New York City during the winter holidays, the New York City's Health Department will perhaps review their decision and adopt a more objective perspective that honors both the values of the Season and the traditions of welcome that are the hallmark of our Industry all year round.

Post Note, November 28, 2011 - If you're interested in learning more about the Round Table of Literary Greats that gathered during the 1920's at the Algonquin Hotel, be sure to check out the film, Mrs. Parker and Her Vicious Circle

The hotel's insightful owner Frank Case often sent complimentary popover rolls and celery to their corner table as those gathered there tended to talk first, drink second (whiskey sours were a favorite) and eat last - a combination that anyone in the Industry knows is not the best for any guest no matter their talent or the season. 

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011