Since opening, management has opened additional restaurants throughout the United States, in Puerto Rico and in Mexico. The Palm is notable for steak, lobster, traditional Italian dishes and the caricatures of individuals sketched on its walls.
Italian immigrants Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the first Palm restaurant in 1926. It was originally intended to be named La Parma but a city licensing clerk misunderstood the thick Italian accent of the founders. The owners found it was easier to change the name than to get the license reissued.
After the Palm was opened it operated as a conventional Italian restaurant offering fare similar to that found in New York's Little Italy neighborhood. Early in its history, however, Bozzi and Ganzi fielded a request for steak and the owners broiled it after retrieving meat from a Second Avenue butcher. As related in the Palm cook book, the first request led to others and the items were put on the menu.
A defining feature of the restaurant's brand has been the tradition of caricatures covering the walls. Those depicted in the murals are celebrities, famous politicians, as well as prominent sports and media figures.
The Palm's historical materials contend that the caricature tradition began as a twist on the phrase "sing for your meal" where an artist who enjoyed the fare would pay for his meal by drawing a portrait on the wall. Additionally, featured celebrities have often provided an autograph next to their portrait.
Later, as the brand expanded, this tradition continued at other locations.
In 1973, the restaurant's third location, the "Palm Too," opened across the street from the original New York location. During the 1970's the restaurants also expanded to three other cities, Los Angeles, Houston and East Hampton, NY.
In 1980, the company took over management of two historic hotels, the Huntting Inn and the Hedges Inn, both located in East Hampton, New York. The company also operates its own wholesale meat company.
Wally Ganzi, the grandson of John Ganzi, and Bruce Bozzi, grandson of Pio Bozzi, are third generation members of the family to operate The Palm, which has expanded into an international restaurant chain.
Today The Palm has over 25 locations in cities throughout the United States as well as locations in Puerto Rico and Mexico. The company is the largest family-owned, U.S.-based chain of "fine dining" restaurants.
For frequent guests, the Palm has established a loyalty program called the "837 Club," which gets its name from the street number of the original Palm. Member benefits include discounts on meals, "points" accumulation that can be used to purchase meals, a free lobster on the member's birthday and other offers.
The restaurant's motto is "the place to see and to be seen."
The Palm was occasionally referenced in the television drama The West Wing. The name is usually mentioned as an example of an exclusive dining venue. Toby Ziegler, a native of Brooklyn, refers to The Palm as a source of "well-prepared steak" in the episode "Isaac and Ishmael". In that same episode he expresses his desire to kill off all of humanity but makes exceptions for, among others such as the Yankees, those who work at the Palm. In another episode, CJ Cregg jokes about having trouble "getting a table at the Palm".
Charlie Sheen's character and his girlfriend appear the dine at The Palm in the 1987 movie Wall Street.