Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Where have all the diners gone...

In 1980's Manhattan, diners were ubiquitous, block after block.  Almost everyone had a regular.  "My" diner was on the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and 50th Street.  It was about 30 steps from my apartment on 50th, just two buildings east of 2nd Avenue.  The diner was mainly for breakfast, occasionally for lunch.  It was a loser move to eat dinner at this completely standard place with absolutely nothing unique and inedible cole slaw, as was the norm at the time in the mostly Greek owned diners.

There was another diner nearby on the east side of 2nd Avenue between 49th and 48th Streets.  This place was unusual.  The cooks were southern black men and the owner was a friendly quirky sort of white guy who always seemed to be there from 5am open to 8pm close.  They served grits with eggs, almost unheard of in the city, not the standard clumpy tasteless hash browns of the usual places. They had fresh fried seafood at lunch and dinner.  Real hamburgers that had taste. The cole slaw was good as was the potato salad.  But this being Manhattan, it was a block and a half away and only frequented when the crawl before coffee was served seemed manageable.  Dinner there at times was an affordable treat but not even beer was available.

Today, those types of diners have largely disappeared.  They have been replaced by more upscale eateries and stores.  If you happen to be at the Met on 5th at 84th and want to grab something quick at a diner while walking to midtown now, there of course will not be anything on 5th, never was, nothing on Madison, once had a few places, nothing on Lexington until you hit a dinosaur a block or two below 72nd, and  3rd Avenue, once lined with diners, has just a few over the 25 blocks.

Today on Facebook, I am posting a picture of "my" diner in 1980.  Why?  Since getting a new iphone two months ago the simplicity of posting photos has made me somewhat deranged.  An infrequent FB poster has gone almost regular.  Events here had already led me to the photo archives and that work is producing results.  There are now faces and not just opinions.


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