I love diners, always have and especially here as they are a rapidly vanishing entity. Keep your six dollar cups of coffee and give me the small cup sitting in a saucer wet on the bottom from it being filled to the top for $1.25.
There is only one located near where I work, but instead of chromed seats and waitresses balancing plates of hot food, this one is on wheels. In a small beat up truck that sits on the same corner everyday near the Staten Island Ferry. I was in heaven the first time I found it, wandering around for something different. Guy who runs it has been there for close to 40 years, has a toothy grin and trades jabs with all the regulars. After visiting two or three times he remembered me and I was included into the fold.
" Who has the best grilled cheese sandwiches?" he says pointing a finger at me.
"You do!" He smiles his buck tooth grin and winks. Yesterday he asks:
" Ya married?"
" If ya don't mind me askin miss how old are ya?"
" Ah, ya still a baby!"
" That's what they tell me."
" Ever been married?"
"Nope." His smile gets even bigger if it's possible.
" Ahh!! smart girl!" he says tapping his head and speaking with the kind of accent only natives of this city are blessed to have and everyone else wishes they could imitate. "You don't want the drama!"
He asks what building I work at and I tell him. His face turns to surprise then gratitude. "You come from all the way up there??! Hey Joe, you hear how far she comes from for us?"
He leans out the window and takes my hand in his suntanned one. " You could go to any place round here for a sandwich and you come to me. God bless ya sweetheart! Wanna pickle? And be sure to take some chips!"
I bid him a good weekend and he tells me to be careful crossing the street.
So if you're ever down near the ferry look for the truck that says All American Diner, and they guarantee their food will be the best you'll ever have.
Tales of Times Square: The Tapes - Author and musician Josh Alan Friedman was working for *Screw* magazine, covering the Times Square beat through the late 1970s and early 80s, when he wrote...
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