Service of Memories II

March 4th, 2021

Categories: Memories, Restaurant, Retail

I passed Pete’s Tavern [photo above] on Tuesday and was relieved to see that it was still in business, looking buff. Landmark restaurants and favorite retail hangouts of my long life in NYC had already gone well before the pandemic but since it began, too many others, some that evoked recent memories, have suddenly bitten the dust.

My father loved Pete’s. In addition to their killer garlic bread there’s another memory that makes me smile. In one week Dad had invited for lunch my mother, a client and me, then a young adult. I was his last date. He looked so pleased with himself when the host, who knew him, teased him about his popularity with women given the assortment of his female guests.

Flying Tiger Photo: timeout.com

In the mile+ walk at noon on a weekday I was shaken at how empty the Manhattan streets were as I headed south on Lexington Avenue to Irving Place to Third Avenue and 14th Street. You’d think it was a sunny Saturday in August in a normal year. I again refer to the photo of Pete’s above center: Not even a dog walker in view. This does not augur well for the remaining businesses in the short term.

From way back I still miss the Goody Shop in Mount Kisco with its killer chocolate ice cream; the fruit tarts and croissants at French bakery Dumas, about 88th Street on Lexington Avenue; the chocolate sauce from a NJ store Grunings; stationery at Kate’s Paperie and Loehman’s that in its heyday pretty much filled my clothes closet. I liked the one on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

Then there are the pandemic-shuttered businesses such as retail store Century 21, especially the one on Dey Street in Manhattan; Flying Tiger a fun place for kitschy gifts and Jasmine, a super Chinese restaurant on East 49th Street, just three that made my heart sink when they closed.

Memories are great but what can we do to for the employees of some of these businesses? I checked out on Charity Navigator organizations that help restaurant workers that are listed in a range of articles and none were rated no doubt because they are new. If you supported any please share.

Have your favorite haunts survived?  Do you remember any that are long gone or more recently erased from the scene?

Photo: downtownmagazinenyc.com

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16 Responses to “Service of Memories II”

  1. David Reich Said:

    I remember Pete’s Tavern. Used to go there after board meetings for The Epilepsy Institute, which was right across the street. Haven’t been there in decades, though.

    Since I’ve been out of the city, I don’t know which places I like are still around and open. I know Comfort Diner on E 45th is still open. I miss my friends there — the owner Dahlia and waitress Ana.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    I haven’t been to Pete’s for decades either–since my dad died decades ago. My paths hadn’t led me there.

    I pass by Comfort Diner quite often. It’s under scaffolding that hides it from view. I liked Perfect Pint across the street which has survived as well.

  3. BC Said:

    We are lucky here in Florida. Have not seen one restaurant close. Strict rules about masks and distancing, and many outdoor dining facilities make the difference.

  4. TC Said:

    Jeanne as you know NYC goes way back in my family to the 20’s. Growing up there I got to know and love Sunday diners at The Gripsolm Restaurant on East 59th Street, Keen’s Chop House on West 36th Street, and Passy’s on East 65th Street. (Addresses may not be too accurate). Keen’s is still in action. But cannot find other two. I could also mention some German bistros o 86th Street. Alas names forgotten. While at Med School–used to love beer and sauerbraten. And one place sported singing/yodeling waiters. Memories….

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    On a few occasions I’ve joined some hearty friends who have eaten outside in Manhattan throughout the pandemic even in winter. The makeshift heating system worked well at their favorite in 40 degrees but not in the 30s.

    Restaurants in the city are now open for indoor dining at either 25 or 35 percent. For some tiny neighborhood haunts that might mean filling a table or two.

    I suspect the rent, taxes and insurance rates in Florida might be more reasonable than in Manhattan making it easier to survive without a full load of customers but then the prices charged here are higher. In any case, weather is certainly on Florida’s side for outdoor dining!

    Lots of little plastic pods are popping up outside pizza and coffee places in my neighborhood, fine if you’re meeting a vaccinated pal or live with the people with whom you break a slice or a Danish. Too close for comfort otherwise.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    Homer loved Keen’s. He met friends there for lunch. He went there alone for lunch on one of his last birthdays and sat at the bar. Ordered himself a Plymouth Gin martini–he said it was heavenly–and struck up a conversation with two young men. They paid his tab. He walked on a cloud afterwards!

    My mother liked the Kleine Konditerei on 86th Street which is gone. Still on Second Avenue between 85th and 86th is Heidelberg. I don’t know about singing waiters though! I first ate sauerbraten on 14h Street at Luchow’s–also gone.

  7. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Here in Brookline it’s Dragon Star for Chinese food and they deliver. Then suddenly they’re closed. No sign in the window to say if it’s temporary or permanent. There’s a website called Next Door Coolidge Corner and so many of us were asking what’s going on? There isn’t another place nearby that has such good food and delivers and has reasonable prices. For many months we all tried to figure out how to reach them to tell them they were missed. Luckily one day a happy surprise Dragon Star is back and now they know how important they are to the neighborhood!!!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    What a WONDERFUL story! I love it. I am so happy to hear your neighborhood is able to once again enjoy and support Dragon Star. Hoping for many more such instances. I worry that people who own small service businesses have lost their life savings.

  9. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    My favourite memory along those lines was going to the Kronenhalle in Zurich with my mother in about 1980.

    Part of the way through dinner, a little old lady (who turned out to be Hulda, the proprietor) came over to our table and made a fuss over my mother with a reminiscence of serving her and my father when they came in on their honeymoon in 1947!

    Hulda is quite famous for her artistic ‘sponsorships’ throughout the 1920/30s. When diners couldnt pay their bills, she would let them pay with pictures they would do, often on napkins, which adorn the walls to this day; now as old masters!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hussein,

    What a wonderful memory!

    I read a story years ago that’s not nearly as great as yours with an unhappy ending. One of the owner/founders of the 21 Club–I think Jack Kriendler–bumped into a loyal and longtime customer. It was during the Depression and he asked why he hadn’t seen him for so long. The customer explained that he’d lost his business and his money and could no longer afford to go out and Kriendler told him that he knew he’d get back on his feet and that he was to come for a meal whenever he’d like–as his guest.

    I just checked and read from the 21 Club: “In light of the ongoing global crisis and anticipated extended recovery period for the hospitality industry, the difficult decision was made that it will not be feasible to reopen the 21 Club in its current form for the foreseeable future. Dec 16, 2020”

  11. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Beyoglu 3rd Ave at 81st. Delicious Turkish food. Closed after 20 years due to the pandemic.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    We can keep our fingers crossed that a miracle might happen–as it did for Helen when her beloved Dragon Star reopened after disappearing for months much to the delight and relief of its fans.

  13. Kathleen Said:

    During the Christmas holidays my parents brought my sister and me to Luchow’s on 14th Street. I loved the decorations on the tree as well as the menu. Wonderful memories.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    My parents’ neighbors used to bring me to Luchow’s. I was a smoker at the time and the restaurant had the most spectacular ashtray with Luchow’s name on it. They bought me an one as a gift and I had it for years. In retrospect it was chunky not charming but I loved it just the same.

  15. Lucille Grippo Said:

    Jeanne, A favorite place in Pawling, NY (Hudson Valley) had to alter it’s business to change with Covid restrictions and their bottom line. Well known for their Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner crowd, they closed for a little while last March and had to alter the hours to dinner only Tuesday through Saturday by reservation only 4:00 pm – 9:00pm. I remember the last time I lunched there with friends on March 11, 2020 and remember the date because it was the last time my children were in a school building until October. Luckily for them the bakery side was able to remain open for coffee and sweets. The small seating area was transformed with a refrigerator section for sandwiches and grab and go meals to heat at home. Although limited it is a little bit of comfort that they are still in business.

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Oh my, Lucille, is the restaurant McKinney & Doyle across from the RR station? It was a favorite of Homer’s. We celebrated many a birthday there. If so, I am SO GLAD it survived. I love it too.

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