Serendipity was named after the three legendary princes of the island once known as Serendip (now Sri Lanka), from which the 18th century writer Sir Horace Walpole coined serendipity. Serendipity has been popular since the beginning. Marilyn Monroe frequently patronized the restaurant, Andy Warhol was a regular before he was well-known, and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was also a frequent guest and once even tried to buy the recipe for the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate for an event she was throwing. Stephen Bruce refused to give her the recipe though he did offer to come and make the frozen drink for her party himself. The recipe can now be found in Sweet Serendipity, a book of recipes and history sold in the general store located inside the restaurant.
In 2004, Serendipity celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by introducing the record-breaking Golden Opulence Sundae, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive dessert, at $1000. It is made with three scoops of the Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, infused with Madagascar vanilla, covered in 23K edible gold leaf, drizzled with the world’s most expensive chocolate, Amedei Porcelana, and covered with chunks of Chuao chocolate, which is from cocoa beans harvested by the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela’s coast. It is suffused with exotic candied fruits from Paris, gold dragées, truffles and Marzipan Cherries and topped with a tiny glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, an exclusive dessert caviar, made of salt-free American Golden caviar, known for its sparkling golden color. It is sweetened and infused with passion fruit, orange, and Armagnac. The sundae is served in a Baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet (which the buyer gets to keep) with an 18K gold spoon, a petite mother of pearl spoon, and topped with a gilded sugar flower by Ron Ben-Israel.
The restaurant for a number of years had a location in Boston at Faneuil Hall, but it closed in 1996, and later opened two new locations with one in Boca Raton in South Florida and another at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas location closed in January 2017, leaving the Boca Raton restaurant as the only location outside of New York open.
On Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, Serendipity 3 opened a new restaurant on the historic corner of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s popular Georgetown shopping district. However, it closed on June 3, 2014. Like the New York location, the D.C. locale hosted many opulent and playful oddities, including an eight-foot fiberglass smirking Abraham Lincoln statue, designed by high-profile D.C. artist and prop designer A. J. Strasser. The Georgetown restaurant also featured a historical clock from landmark D.C. jeweler Galt & Bros, established in 1802 and one of the longest running business in D.C., as well as a 1960s photograph of Andy Warhol and Serendipity 3 co-founder Stephen Bruce.
There is also a Serendipity 3 in Harajuku, in Tokyo, Japan.