Feature Stories

Spring 2016

Who Was Diamond Jim Brady, Anyway?

The juicy story behind the Gilded Age namesake for one of the thickest cuts of prime rib off the cart at Lawry’s The Prime Rib.

Legend has it that James Buchanan Brady, or Diamond Jim Brady, had the appetite of ten men. Legend has it that James Buchanan Brady, or Diamond Jim Brady, had the appetite of ten men.

AT LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB, we’ve offered the extra thick Diamond Jim Brady Cut to guests for nearly eighty years. But just who was this man and how did he come by such a distinction?

Born in 1856 to Irish immigrants in New York City, James B. Brady was a self-made millionaire, railroad tycoon, and philanthropist. His love of flashy jewelry, which he affectionately called “my pets” and wore on everything – even down to his underwear – earned him his nickname.

Prominent man-about-town, Broadway theatergoer, tireless dancer and owner of the city’s first automobile, Diamond Jim was a true celebrity in his day.

Any restaurant guest would have immediately recognized his name

His superhuman appetite established him as the “greatest eater” of the late 19th century America’s Gilded Age. It was said that in one sitting he could put away enough food to feed ten people. A midday snack alone might include three dozen oysters, six lobsters, turtle soup, a steak and two pounds of bonbons for dessert.

His reputation, built on press coverage during his life, grew into the next century. In the depths of the Depression, people’s fascination with this outsized character was heightened by the publication of a biography in 1934 and the release of Preston Sturges’ 1935 movie “Diamond Jim.”

a self-made millionaire, railroad tycoon, and philanthropist

By the time the first Prime Rib opened in 1938, Diamond Jim Brady, who had passed away twenty-one years before, was legendary. Any restaurant guest would have immediately recognized his name as a symbol of the biggest and the best.

Three generations later, we continue to carry on an entertaining tradition associated with an American icon from another time. We’re sure that if Diamond Jim Brady were around today, he’d be a Lawry’s regular (and most likely a Platinum VIP Rewards member). Of course, we suspect he’d routinely indulge in our double cut, bone-in Beef Bowl Cut of prime rib – or maybe two or three.

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June 25, 2021

Brown Bag Wine Dinner

For our next dinner, we will be showcasing five different varietals of red wine blindly and invite you to demonstrate your proficiency in the deductive tasting.

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