Shalom Japan, 310 S. 4th St.
[Grabs you by the lapels] “Listen, mister, you’ve gotta — well, well sit down, here, now, make yourself comfortable, I’ve got to tell you something — listen, there’s this little place in New York City, name of Shalom Japan — can you beat that? Shalom Japan — and it’s just the most terrific little piece of something you’ve ever seen. This restaurant — it was started by a swell Jewish fella and a real nice Japanese gal, and they bring the food right out to you. Right out to you! You don’t even have to get up and leave the table. Can you beat that? Really, though. Can you beat it? I sure can’t. Why, just a few years ago it seems, we were all at war with each other, and here we all are now, sitting in a dining room together, eating a bowl of — a bowl of I don’t know what, only it’s just delicious. I think there’s some fish in it. I don’t know what kind of fish. Tastes great, and fills you up, too. Just terrific. Just tee-riffic.”
Russian Vodka Room, 265 W. 52nd St.
“They put pickles and garlic in the liquor here. I can’t say I understand it, but God bless ’em. [voice becomes audibly choked up] God bless ’em.”
Glady’s, 788 Franklin Ave.
“Sometimes, you know, sometimes a fella just wants to sit at a counter and eat a sandwich in peace and quiet for a few minutes, before he has to go back to his day, and isn’t it swell that there are so many places where we can do that now? Just sit in peace and quiet and enjoy a good sandwich. Nothing in the world like it. You can get that here. A chair all to yourself, a clean white napkin, a glass of milk and a mug of coffee and a sandwich for your lunch. And it’d be a real mistake to want to forget that, or to throw it away. A real mistake. Yes, sir. [quietly, almost to himself] Yes, sir.”
Whitman & Bloom, 384 Third Ave.
“We’re going to make a memory here tonight, I can tell. I can feel it in my fingertips all the way down to my bones. In a way — in some small way, I think they’re doing something important here. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It’s deep in the race, for a man to want to have someplace he can sit down and have four walls and a roof around him and take his hat off and have a pretty girl bring him a steak. No disrespect, miss, but you have the prettiest hands I’ve ever seen. Thank you. And this place…this place is helping them get that, in its own way.”
Glasserie, 95 Commercial St.
“You can get anything here. Just anything. They’ve got one meal that comes with potatoes and cheese and an egg on it. An egg, right on top of dinner. There are people who are dead right now. Right now! They’re finished living. But not us. We’re here, and we’re alive, and we’re young, and we’re eating potatoes with eggs on them.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.