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How Monk's Got Its Name On Seinfeld

Like characters in a Paul Schrader film, the gang on "Seinfeld" are often defined by their frequent surroundings. There's Jerry's apartment, that curious nexus between worlds (or possibly a substructure of The Matrix) where Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld), George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) feel free to drop in at virtually any time of the day or night to discuss their ongoing problems. But second only to that one-bed, one-bathroom apartment in the lives of the "Seinfeld" foursome is Monk's, the Manhattan diner with the big neon "RESTAURANT" sign that is most often referred to as, simply, "the coffee shop."

How did Monk's get its name? Who is Monk? As it turns out, the name is a pretty straightforward allusion to another famous 20th-century Monk, made not out of any deeper expression but just because it happened to be readily at hand when show co-creators Seinfeld and Larry David needed a quick name for the place.

Monk's was named after jazz great Thelonius Monk

In an expansive 1998 New York Magazine piece celebrating "Seinfeld" as it concluded its historic network run, Jerry Seinfeld shared plenty of tidbits about the process by which he and Larry David wrote the "Seinfeld" pilot. As Seinfeld tells it, it's almost as if he and David were in Verbal Kint mode (à la the ending of "The Usual Suspects"), grabbing names and places from their immediate surroundings and incorporating them into their story.

According to Seinfeld, he and David began writing the pilot that would eventually become a part of TV history in February of 1989. "Larry told me about his next-door neighbor, and we put him in," he said. That neighbor's name was Kenny Kramer, whose exploits as David's one-time neighbor reportedly inspired the iconic character who shares his surname (via New York Daily News).

Unsurprisingly, the real Kramer is hardly the only real-life person to lend his name to a "Seinfeld" character. In fact, there's another famous name in the series, and it wouldn't be surprising if you're already familiar with this particular real-life counterpart. Seinfeld revealed, "We called the coffee shop Monk's because there was a Thelonious Monk poster in the office where Larry and I were writing, and we just needed a name."

According to The Atlantic, Monk is a jazz legend and an important figure in music history — but we're betting not even all of his fans are aware that he unknowingly provided the name for that omnipresent coffee shop on "Seinfeld."