Question for NYCers

Back in 1980, my dad took me to NYC. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, and visited the Nedick’s on or near the highest inhabited floor. He bought me a painted Nedick’s glass, and I treasured it (it was really pretty, with the New York skyline at sunset) and always washed it by hand. Four years later, I dropped it on the kitchen floor. I wasn’t carrying anything else and my hands weren’t greasy; it just happened. I was devastated. I was telling Mr. Rilch about this last night, and he said, “That’s really sad, because there’s probably not a Nedick’s there anymore. I’ll betcha anything it’s a Starbucks.” Anyone know if the Nedick’s is still there, or if it’s a Starbucks, or what?

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

I’m pretty sure Nedick’s is no more. I used to eat at their restaurant in Penn Station in the 60s, but the last few times in NYC I haven’t seen it anywhere (certainly not in Penn Station).

No Nedick’s at all? That’s sad. You sure they didn’t leave just one, for sentiment? Out here in LA, there’s an ongoing movement to preserve local monuments, as in The Very First Whatever (Bob’s Big Boy), The One and Only Such-and-Such (Pink’s), or the Last Remaining Whosis (The Apple Pan).
I will leave the irony of preserving Angeleno culture to others, but I have two further questions.

  1. IS there a Starbucks in the Empire State Building?
  2. Don’t tell me Chock Full 'O Nuts is gone, too.

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

I’m not sure about the Empire State Starbucks, but Chock Full O Nuts is history. Manhattan is turning into a strip mall like everywhere else.

Since I’ve been in New York (nearly 20 years), I’ve seen the demise of Doubleday’s, Fiorucci’s, Altman’s, Bonwit’s, Childs’, the Horn & Hardart Automat, the Russian Tea Room, storage lockers in train stations, and now the wonderful Hotaling’s foreign newsstand in Times Square . . . I’m starting to feel old.

[wordlessly sets Flora McF up with a smoked sable on a bialy and a lime rickey]


Uke, Flora, I think you two make a darling couple.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match

“Owls will deafen us with their incessant hooting!” W. Smithers

. . . I see us portrayed by Una Merkel and ‘Skeets’ Gallagher . . .

Do you happen to know why all these institutions are disappearing? My theory would be that Chock Full 'O Nuts and the like aren’t as profitable as formulaic stores like Starbucks; the Russian Tea Room is too old school to attract the people who can afford it, and storage lockers were probably somehow utilized in drug dealing. But whatever the reasons are, it’s awful to me to hear this.

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

Oh, I know why most of them are gone–you’re right about the storage lockers, and I am 100% behind their abolition. As handy as they were, I’m not into getting blown up in Penn Station.

The Russian Tea Room was sold to some guy who said, “I’ll keep it just as it was!” and then promptly demolished the building and now says he’ll build some huge ugly mega-restaurant on the site. Bastard.

Doubleday, Scribner and a lot of great old bookstores were put out of business by Barnes & Noble and the Internet–same story with the late, lamented Hotalings, which I still miss terribly.

The great old department stores like Altman’s, Wanamaker’s, etc., are being put out of business both by their own stupid business moves and by cheap-crap chain stores.

Fact o’ life: as you get older, everything changes, you get depressed, eventually you get old and die, and no one but the historians will remember what things used to be like. I read about New York 100 years ago, and had I been around when the grand old mansions were being demolished for glass-box skyscrapers, I’d have had a nervous collapse.

Flora has it in a nutshell; sad but true. In a few years this lousy fancy-coffee craze will be over, and we can look forward to the Starbucks franchises dropping like flies…but they’ll be replaced by the next fad. In the meantime, all we can do is continue to patronize Macy’s, the Essex Street pickle barrels, the Gotham Bookstore, the Grand Central Oyster Bar, Katz’s Deli (“Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army”), etc.

Brooklyn makes an interesting contrast to Manhattan…there’s less money to be made there, so a lot of the nice old stuff is persevering…or returning. Lundy’s, the old seafood restaurant famous for the “shore dinner,” actually re-opened a couple of years back, albeit in a much smaller incarnation. Peter Luger’s Teutonic steakhouse is still in business, and still packing in the suits. Ebinger’s Bakeries began making their double-chocolate “blackout cake” again. Maybe Ebbet’s Field will re-sprout on Flatbush Avenue, and the Dodgers will finally come home.

Flora…not Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess?


Sorry, hon, now that I know you have smoker’s lungs, I can’t trust you to get me off that ice floe in time . . .


Almond M&Ms? Hank Williams records? Contemporary romance novels? Opium lozenges? Bowling For Dollars? Romano-garlic breadsticks?


Ah-HAH! Found a clue in the “List O’Favorites” thread…she’s a PRISONER fan…

Yeah, she’s not a number…

Neither is she unmutual…

Aw, for goshsakes, guys, I spent last summer in Portmeirion, OK? Yes, I liked The Prisoner back in the '60s, but when I recently saw reruns on TVLand, I fell on the floor laughing–the height of pretentious '60s claptrap! By the way, Portmeiron is more gorgeously wacky in real life than you can even imagine from the series. Stairways that lead nowhere, a concrete ship moored on the Irish sea, painted-on fake windows–an absolute madhouse, all constructed from 18th and 19th century manor houses.

And you want my embarrasing weakness? Fla-vor-Ice. Those condoms filled with Kool-Aid that you freeze ‘n’ eat? Can’t get enough of 'em . . .

Fla-Vor-Ice? My next guess was going to be kryptonite!