1450 Collins Avenue is an Art Deco structure in the Nautical Moderne style that has had many lives. Built by Henry Hohauser in 1940, it opened as the popular eatery “Hoffman’s Cafeteria”, with wave-like designs and vertical images suggesting smokestacks or a ship’s funnel. Excluding the years 1942-1945, when Hoffman’s became an Army Mess Hall, it continued serving Jewish style noshes into the 70’s.
In 1975, the building underwent a metamorphosis to become “Warsaw Ballroom”, a dance hall for the senior citizen crowd. In 1986, after being closed for five years, it re-opened as a high end supper club called “Ovo at the Warsaw Ballroom”. In 1987, it changed ownership again and became “The China Club”, which served Chinese food and played eclectic non-disco music to attract a younger crowd. It was equipped with an addition of a 2,500 gallon shark tank with two three foot sharks. In 1989 it transformed itself again into the iconic “Warsaw Ballroom”, which this time drew a young hip crowd who craved all night parties with no limits. Those wild parties included Battle of the Bods Competitions, Underwear Parties, Belly Dancers, Flame Throwers, Drag Queens, Gangsters, Ravers and the first unisex bathrooms. Even Gianni Versace hosted parties at Warsaw, solely for fun and not profit. Dancing the night away til dawn, a popular saying back then was, “We came. We saw. We Warsaw”. Sadly, the last party at this hot spot was in 1999.
Next in 2000, it was to be transformed into a 24/7 European-style restaurant called “Jerry’s Famous Deli” by the Starkmans, owners of the Rascal House in 1997. At Jerry’s they served up “mile-high” corned beef, pastrami, and brisket kosher style sandwiches until 2014. In 2015, once again ownership changed hands into the chain Senor Frog’s Restaurant, which is still operating there today. How many out there have memories of eating or partying at this location?