Greenpoint, October, 2015

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Last week, I was in Philadelphia for work. I wanted to find a quiet place to get a sandwich. I found it. The moment I stepped into Tony's, I felt as though I had walked into the last day of an era whose last day had been decades ago. There were two dining rooms, a small one beyond the counter, which was closed off, and a vast one on the other side of a partition. It functioned as a combination dining room, kitchen, office, and shrine to Tony (I suppose).

When I came in to the large, there was one other customer, a teenage girl eating a club sandwich. She asked for a box and left. After I had ordered my cheese steak, an older man with a limp came in (let's call him Joe). He was greeted warmly by the waitress (Sylvia), as if they had been expecting him all morning. Their conversation went something like this:
J: That wind is terrible, Sylvia, terrible.
S: Come inside, sit down. I bring you a coffee, Joe.
J: That's exactly what I'm going to do.
S: You gotta be careful with that wind.
J: Oh, it's terrible, terrible. Ah, here's my coffee. Thank you, Sylvia.
S: Whatta you gonna have? You want a cheese steak?
J: No. I never eat cheese steak.
S: Chicken salad?
J: No. I had chicken yesterday. Let's see (looking at menu).
S: Whatta you want? I bring it to you.
J: I want something different.
S: Something different, okay.
J: Bring me..., let me see.... Bring me fried onion rings. That sounds good.
S: That's what you want, onion rings?
J: Yes. Onion rings. That's it.
Sylvia shouts back to the kitchen to see if they have them. They do.

The next day, I walked past the shop. I hadn't notice the For Rent signs. Will Tony's be there next time I go to Philadelphia? Where will Joe go for lunch?

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