WALDORF BELLOWNY, N.Y. — Jimmy Elidrissi, the Bronx-born restauranteur known for creating the Waldorf-Astoria Bellhop, died Sunday after being stricken with a heart attack at his Long Island home. He was 74.
Known affectionately as “Mr. Bellboy,” Mr. Elidrissi was a common sight at every NYC property where chefs and celebrities would drop by in the 21st century. He carved out a role for himself as figurehead, facilitator and comedian, balancing both big names and local regulars with his native Bronx hard-knocks life story.
Founded by Alfred Taubman, the New York City hotel magnate, the Waldorf-Astoria was established in 1931. Mr. Elidrissi, the hotel’s Bellhop since 1968, was hired as a bellman and never stopped smiling in his 35 years of service.
In addition to being one of the hotel’s most recognizable fixtures, Mr. Elidrissi was also well-known for what he wore: Over the years, he added the familiar “comfortable with a smile” blazers and charcoal jeans, perfect for the hotel’s Grand Ballroom where families flock for their evening meals. The Bellhop itself was put on the map during the late 1960s, when Robert Mitchum ordered a Bellmore water bottle from Mr. Elidrissi and returned with a bottle of wine for Elidrissi’s brother, boxer Jimmy Spadafora. He then went on to receive gold recording plaques for both films and boxer classes.
In a statement, Stephen M. Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of Blackstone Group, said that Mr. Elidrissi “always treated his customers as his family and they could not have known a more happy or appreciative man.”
“I have immense respect for his intelligence, his presence, his warmth and his genuine love for those he served,” Schwarzman added.
In 1996, the Waldorf Tower was named the “Earning Spirit of America,” in part for its Bellman, the group estimated he earned each year.
“I’ve always felt a responsibility to help not only the hotel and its guests but also the neighborhood and to make a place of service which everyone could appreciate,” Mr. Elidrissi said in an interview on Staten Island’s WCBS Radio in 2014.
“All of us have become like family,” he added. “It’s been fun,” he said.
Mr. Elidrissi is survived by his wife of 53 years, Carol, and sons Anthony and Mario.