Created By: Ithaca Heritage
Johnny's Big Red Grill, at the site of the neon bear, achieved posterity as Guido's Grill in Been Down So Long.
Johnny's was operated by the Petrillose family from 1919 to 1981 and it collected scores of would-be writers and musicians. Harry Chapin wiped down tables here. Peter Yarrow sang here before he became one-third of Peter, Paul and Mary.
It was the usual nighttime gathering place, Pynchon wrote in the introduction to his comrade's novel. He remembered meeting Fariña here to study for finals over bottles of Red Cap ale.
As Been Down So Long described it:
"A mammoth red neon bear blinked on their faces.... And bang, he was through the swinging doors, inhaling the familiar fumes of Guido's Grill. Odors always able to hang you up, lay bare the honeycombed cells of nasal memory. Frenchfried onion rings, pizzaburgers, bubbly cooking fat, Breath-O-Pine disinfectant."
This point of interest is part of the tour: A Literary Walking Tour of Ithaca (Historic Brochure Edition)