Monday, March 31, 2008

Cheyenne Diner

VANISHING

A commenter to this blog (eeps) tipped me to the closing of the Cheyenne Diner, which I just covered two weeks ago upon the happy news of the Market Diner's re-opening. I called the diner to confirm and yes, sadly, this will be the Cheyenne's last week on earth after more than half a century at 9th and 33rd.


more photos @ my flickr

Just as I thought life in New York was getting better for our diners, another is put out to pasture. Maybe it will follow the Moondance out to Wyoming. I just hope the autographed pics of What's Happening's Fred "Rerun" Berry will go with it.

What else is there to say? I am shocked and saddened.

Luxury Living

Yesterday I attended the NY Observer's first annual Luxury Living New York Condo Showcase at the Puck Building, where dozens of booths manned by sharply dressed salespeople hawking condos were beset by hundreds of people pushing their way to the price lists and free swag.

I went with the hopes of gaining some new insight about the current condo culture and the future of our city. I'd like to come up with something brilliant to say about the event, but it wasn't much more enlightening than leafing through a glossy magazine. So, for what it's worth, here's a bunch of random snippets--snapshots, overheard conversations, bits and pieces of marketing materials...


80 Metropolitan gumball with Platinum and 45 John M&Ms

Mmm...condo cookie...


"She's getting a lot of personal exposure. She comes from money, so it's expenses first, money second."

"It's not how much you make. It's who you know."


model of Toren: coming to Flatbush

Own Your Share of New York.

You Belong Here.

"It's a great amenity-laden building."



"It's all about connections."

Prewar Elegance--Extravagant Scale.



"How can that be prewar if it's new?"
"It's new construction but with prewar style."


Starting at $8 million with a minimum of 4 bedrooms.



"You look fabulous."

Hell's Kitchen, It's Got a Bite...It's got a sexy smile, too. And an energy and a future that's making tomorrow a different story from today.



A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those who demand the most amenity-rich, full-service, ultra-everything life-style imaginable.

"It's perfectly safe for a single woman to live alone in Astoria, Queens."



"Sorry--I flirt."

Friday, March 28, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

A giant silver penis with hairy testicles, outlined in hot pink, appears above the doomed one-stories at 10th and 4th--soon to be hidden by a towering hotel?


Fontana's shoe repair shop has been gutted. The sign is gone. There's a Dumpster out front. And three workers have managed to completely rip out the floors, walls, and ceiling (sob):


Shuttered CBGB's 313 Gallery opens as Morrison Hotel Gallery and one blogger who attended is "encouraged & amazed to see a creative based business actually thriving in the current climate." [Stupefaction]

Element Beauty Lounge covers up the great artifacts exposed by the facade teardown at 10th and 3rd. Why they would enclose a gorgeous, antique cast-iron column in sheet metal I cannot fathom:


DKNY and Pottery Barn get eaten by Abercrombie as the Vongerichtifiers devour each other across the Manhattan landscape. [Gothamist]

And someone, somewhere will no doubt shell out the $200 to buy the latest banned-in-America Abercrombie sales catalog. [NYPost] via Racked

Don't get too excited--that Coney Island roller rink pretty much proves to have been nothing more than a celebrity-infused publicity stunt for Tommy Hilfiger and Glamour magazine. What a tease! [Observer]

Next Thursday, April 3, catch a reading and peepshow about Diane Arbus' work on Hubert's Flea Circus, one of the great wonders of lost Times Square. [Freebird Books]

What's left of 6th Avenue? Not much--but what's there is good. [ForgottenNY]

Sweet Banana

Following up on yesterday's depressing news, I revisited the dying block of 9th Ave and popped into the Sweet Banana Candy Store around lunchtime, when middle-school kids pour out of the O. Henry building on 17th, making a beeline for Sweet Banana.



I was soon surrounded by clumsy, goofy little boys, many of them slurping Cup-O-Noodles or holding steaming styrofoam trays of Chinese food they got for lunch next door at New China (also packed with kids). Most of these boys were Asian and many of them wore glasses and big, oversized sneakers. They jostled around the plexiglass candy trays, grabbing for Chick-O-Sticks, Sugar Daddies, Air Heads, Hot Tamales...as NY Press put it: "a mix of both common and weird candies."



Sweet Banana sells nostalgic candy, the old-fashioned stuff, like Mary Janes, Goetze's caramels, and odd individually wrapped Circus Peanuts. I was the only one in the place who picked up a pack of Round Up candy cigarettes. I love the packaging. Turns out they're made by a company in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, called World Candies (aka Confections), one of the last producers of candy cigarettes in the U.S.

There's been a movement to ban candy cigarettes because, proponents claim, they encourage kids to smoke. I don't know about that. I didn't see any kids buying these things--and eating a candy cigarette is a lot like eating a stick of chalk dipped in sugar. I do know that candy cigarettes should be added to the list of vanishings, because how long can they stick around, really?



Which is the same way I feel about Sweet Banana, even though, when I asked the cashier if they were closing soon, she told me they were staying. But with the new owner planning a retail tenant overhaul, how long can they stick around, really?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Death of a Block

The eastern block of 9th Ave between 17th and 18th is filled with thriving small businesses. They have the look of an older New York, a hodgepodge of neon signs and scruffy awnings, and they're always crowded with neighborhood people. I've been wondering when the block would begin to vanish, but I didn't know it would happen with just one real estate deal.



8 of 10 businesses on the block are on the first floor of one residential building, #112-126 9th Ave. In November 2007, Morris Moinian's Fortuna Realty bought the building for $31.4 million. According to the Observer, Moinian planned "to renovate and upgrade, hoping to lure high-end retail to the storefronts on ground level." The renovating and upgrading has begun--and all 8 businesses will (eventually, quickly) be wiped out.



The first to vanish will be Chelsea Liquors. In business since about 1940, under the current ownership for over 30 years, they've been given 30 days to vacate the premises. The rent has jumped 300% and the lease is up. I went in to talk to the bereaved owner and a steady stream of regulars came in to grieve and express their anger. One guy told me, "I've known this man since I was a kid!" Another feared the sale of his home in the Fulton Houses projects across the avenue--he also told me that Donald Trump just bought his mother's home, the Lillian Wald Houses on the LES: not true as far I know, but this is what you call a case of "reality-based paranoia."



Second in line to vanish is the New China take-out joint next door. Their lease ends in September. The 9th Ave Gift Shop bodega has a lease extending until 2013, but neighbors suspect he'll be bought out before then. There's also Tamara Dry Cleaners, a Moneygram check-cashing place, Famous Deli, and the Sweet Banana Candy Store--hailed by NY Press as the best in town and "the only NYC candy shop that still makes 'candy shop' a term full of sinister meaning."

But the most heartbreaking loss will be the New Barber Shop.



I went in for a haircut and was warmly welcomed by Willie, one of the three barbers who man the shop's antique chairs. He told me their lease will end in a year and a half, but they may to go sooner, perhaps in the next 6 months, as soon as they can find a new place.

Run by Manuel Manolo for the past dozen or so years, the New Barber Shop is an unofficial social club, a community center, a home. Men sit in chairs silently or chatting in Spanish, surrounded by pictures of baseball players, boxers, and John F. Kennedy.

A friendly, talkative guy named Marshall ("but people call me Flaco--it means skinny") introduced himself. A wealth of information and a sort of barber shop ambassador, he knows everything that's happening up and down the block. He told me that the building is already being renovated to install a gym in the basement on one side and a parking garage on the other.



Flaco emphasized how special the shop is, saying, "You can't find another barber shop like this. It's full of characters, like me. In the day, we got the daytime characters. At night, after we close, we got the nighttime characters--the homeless guys come in then--and we all just hang out." When the barber shop and all the other businesses here are gone, Flaco said, "We'll have no place to go."



No, they won't, because whatever replaces the New Barber Shop, Chelsea Liquors, and the rest of those small businesses will be financially out of reach for Flaco and the many other lower-income neighborhood people. New retail in those spaces is "expected to reflect the trendy neighborhood," and it seems the new owner hopes to extend the super-luxury of the Meatpacking District and neighbors Maritime Hotel and Vikram Chatwal's soon-to-come Dream Downtown hotel (occupying a former homeless shelter).

According to Mr. Moinian's Fortuna Realty website, he owns 5 hotels, including the Dylan, a "lifestyle hotel...with all modern amenities," where he partnered with Britney Spears in the restaurant Nyla. Mr. Moinian looks for "hipness." He likes places "to see and be seen and all that good stuff."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Grub Street picked up on my Beatrice Vongerichtified post and expanded beautifully on it, pointing to the "dissolution of communities into an ocean of self-interested particles living together in a heartless and abstract society." And they provide the answer to my question, "What is NYC becoming as it ceases to be a democracy?" An oligarchy, of course. [Grub St]

Brownstoner comes out of the blog closet and curates a new Brooklyn flea market. [Observer]

Cosmo cocktail creator gets evicted from the neighborhood destroyed by the same people who made his creation famous. [Observer]

The Chinatown Fair arcade has a big for rent sign on it, says tipster Ben: "Now you can't even see the old ghost lettering for the Tic-Tac-Toe chicken. Worst of all, it might close! I asked the arcade attendant about the sign and he said not to worry. It was only for the apartments above. However I read the sign again and it said looking for retail tenants. Maybe this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I hope he's right." He might be, according to the Voice. Here's a photo from Ben:


Those little buildings on 13th are coming down for Karl Fischer's 18-story luxe hotel. The rat bait's been set and yesterday the places were wide open and crawling with workers. I asked one and he swiped his hand through the air to signify demolition and said in broken English, "New building coming." What does this mean for the 13th St. Rep?

Closing: Even the CBGB's retail store can't make it in the new East Village. [Voice] via [Urbanite]

Very exciting! Coney's old B&B Carousell horses are leaving storage at the Brooklyn Army Terminal to be restored to their former glory. [Urbanite]

Chin's Laundry

I don't know much about Chin's Laundry and Dry Cleaning on West 13th Street. I don't have my laundry done there (like this blogger does). I only walk by it often and, when I do, I enjoy a peek at laundry wrapped neatly in brown paper packages labeled with pastel slips in pistachio green. I love seeing these old-fashioned packages in Chinese laundries. There's just something about them.



Yesterday, when I walked by Chin's I saw a BUILDING FOR SALE sign in the window and my heart sank. I don't know what this means for Chin's, if it will vanish or remain, but I have no doubt that Chinese hand laundries are disappearing from the city.

A decade ago, most laundries in the city were Chinese owned. Wrote the New York Times, "The Chinese began dominating the laundry business in the 19th century, when hostility barred them from many other lines of work and spawned immigration laws that specifically excluded Chinese workers."



There used to be a small and shadowy Chinese hand laundry on East 9th Street (or was it 10th?). It's gone now. And Harry Chong on Waverly closed in 2005 after 60 years. Chong's painted sign remains and I pang whenever I pass it (Lost City recently featured a pic), now that those brown-paper packages tied up with strings are gone and a hipster hair salon has taken their place.

If Chin's does close when the building sells--and it seems inevitable--maybe whatever Vongerichtifying restaurant or boutique that takes its place will leave these wonderful red-and-gold, Chinese-style numbers on the door, so we can at least remember what's been lost.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Robert DeNiro is getting $38.9 million in tax-free September 11 Liberty Bonds to build a hotel for the affluent! [Chelsea H]

Take a terrifying look at a new vision of the Chelsea Hotel. [Gothamist]

Rolando discovers Vanderveer Park, a forgotten neighborhood in Brooklyn. [Urbanite]

The War of Bushwick rages on as the scourge of welfare beans and dusty carpets is slowly eradicated by gentrifiers both celebrated and reviled. [BushwickBk]

Greenpoint loses a "much-needed houseware store" for a totally unnecessary bank branch. [NYShitty]

As we embark on the final season of Yankee Stadium, a look back at the history of its team. [BBoys]

Todd gets a peek behind the scenes before the Stadium falls. [Hell'sK]

Taxpayers shell out $190 million to destroy the ballpark they love. [Queens Crap]

Beatrice Vongerichtified

*Update: Vongerichtified's originator follows up with VNY

I was walking around the Village when I stumbled upon the Beatrice Inn. It's been there since 1926. I've passed it before, but never went inside. I took a couple pictures and made a note to go back for dinner sometime. But after an eye-opening Google session, I realize that I won't be going back to the Beatrice Inn, because I seriously doubt the bouncers would allow me inside.

Yes, the Beatrice Inn has bouncers. It's exclusive. It's uber-hip. A celebrity hot spot. But long before Lindsay Lohan started going there to make out with hunky guys, it was a family business run by Elsie and Ubaldo Cardia, and then their children, Aldo and Vivian. It was a neighborhood place where regulars dined nightly. As for celebrities, Jane Jacobs ate there, but today she'd never make it past the proverbial velvet ropes--she was not very fashionable.



The new owner, when he opened the new Beatrice Inn, said he would reserve Monday nights for the old regulars, featuring red-sauce specials and Scrabble. "The whole idea behind the bar-restaurant is bringing things back to NYC, like American and New York things." I wonder if he's honored this promise.

In 2005, when the restaurant closed upon the Cardia children's sale of the building, David Kamp in The Times wrote: "In a neighborhood that grows ever more fabulous, expensive and Vongerichtified, the Beatrice is one of the last vestiges of the nudgy, agitational, oppositional Village of yore."



I had to look up "Vongerichtified." Frank Kirkland at Hunter College says it's from the name of a glamorous, high-end chef and "a neighborhood that is 'Vongerichtified' would be one whose restaurants have shifted their cuisine, their ambience, and their prices in this high-end direction. sociologically this is quite interesting characterizing a neighborhood in terms of its restaurants. usually a neighborhood restaurant carries a kind of 'gemeinschaftlich' (communal) sense. a restaurant in a 'Vongerichtified' neighborhood does not appear to carry such a sense."

Maybe this is a solution to the problem of the word "gentrification," which isn't strong enough, and has to be replaced by something like "super-gentrification" or "hyper-luxurification" to really get at what's happening in this city.

Just think of how many neighborhoods, how many streets, how many places in this city have recently gone from gemeinschaftlich (common, shared, mutual) to Vongerichtified (aristocratic, exclusive, separate). We are moving away from democracy, from a city in which all kinds of people--classes, races, ethnicities--mix and mingle.

What, then, are we becoming?

Monday, March 24, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Take a look inside the most recent crane disaster. [Curbed]

A visual roundup of crane accidents. [Gothamist]

Blog commenters get really mad about a pro-Marc Jacobs post that celebrates shops filled with "young, charming and hilarious people." [Racked]

A new roller rink opened recently in Staten Island--and here I am saying some stuff about rollerskating. [Observer]

And another roller rink opens at Coney, in the old Childs building--too bad this one is temporary. [Curbed]

Speaking of Childs, a piece of the Childs restaurant chain survives at Fulton. [City Room]

Chelsea Barnes and Noble to shutter this week. Hurry in to get your big sale puppy calendars and photo essays about tractors. [Racked]

A great old pic of Streit's Matzo Factory from the VNY Flickr Pool:

photo by LeoLondon

Margon Restaurant

There are few places left in Times Square to enjoy authentic, tasty, inexpensive food. Margon Restaurant is one of them--and it's been serving up Cuban comfort on W. 46th Street since the 1960s.



This weekend I enjoyed a plate of beef stew with beans and rice and talked with Getty Rivas who told me about how his father came from the Dominican Republic and first worked in the restaurant as a dishwasher. In 1987, after Margon had moved into its current spot, a former go-go bar, Mr. Rivas took over. The place continues to be managed and staffed completely by the Rivas family--"aunts, uncles, cousins..."--17 family members in total. They have since added their own Dominican flavors to the Cuban dishes.



The place is narrow and cafeteria style. You order your food from the counter and take a seat. Salsa plays over the radio. People chat and sometimes dance while they wait for their plates of octopus salad, plantains, roasted chicken so tender it falls off the bone. Taxi drivers and tour bus drivers come for lunch. It just feels like New York City here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gleason's Gym

The last time I went to the part of Brooklyn now popularly known as DUMBO was in 1997. I went to Gleason's Gym because I was interested in boxing and wanted to see one of the oldest boxing gyms in America.

Getting there felt like a dangerous adventure. It was the middle of nowhere, it seemed, a wasteland of forgotten cobblestoned streets in the dark shadow of the rusty Manhattan Bridge. I did not feel safe, but I did feel brave. And that seemed like the right feeling to have when you go to a real boxing gym. It's impossible to have that feeling today.



I went back to Gleason's last week to find an entire world turned upside-down. The gym is in the same place, but everything around it has changed. There's a West Elm and a Bo Concept on the first floor. The affluent walk the scrubbed cobblestones, shopping for luxury goods. Gourmet markets sell $5 single-serving bottles of juice.



Gleason's sign is on the outside door, but it's dwarfed by a sign for The Fitness Guru. I waited for their customers to come down the stairs, carrying a fleet of Bugaboo strollers, figuring a Mommy and Me class had just let out. I trembled to think what I would find inside Gleason's.



Thankfully, not much has changed inside the old gym. Once the door closes behind you, you can imagine you're still on a former Front Street. Aside from a few young women in hot-pink gloves and a few middle-aged men with white-collar faces, the room is filled with boxers, serious and sweating. Champions and contenders still train at Gleason's.



The owner, Bruce Silverglade, sits by the door and makes you feel welcome--but inside you still get that unsafe feeling. And it feels good. Men are beating each other. Other men dance around the floor, punching heavy bags. A bell goes off and they all drop their hands. It goes off again and the soft/hard sound of fists and gasps resumes. The room seethes with aggression.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chez Brigitte Turns 50

*Update: Vanished June 5, 2008

For those who miss Sucelt and anticipate missing Florent, there is a tiny luncheonette on Greenwich Ave, just past 7th Ave, that manages a loose combination of the two: French diner meets inexpensive Latin flavors.



Chez Brigitte has been in business since 1958--this year is their 50th anniversary--and was begun by a woman named Brigitte Catapano, a native of Marseilles. When she retired to Florida, the diner went to her partner Rosa Santos and acquired its Spanish touch. Both women have since passed away, but the diner is still in the hands of a Spaniard, and chef Raphael hails from Mexico. The atmosphere is friendly and the food is pure comfort, "la cuisine grandmere."



The Voice's Robert Sietsema writes: "The signature is beef bourguignon, a massive platter of tender gravied meat with a touch of red wine (that's the French part), with petits pois and a couple of starchy sides; or check out the poulet roti, a tender breast painted with a dark sophisticated demi-glace."



The names of the dishes may be French--Boeuf Bourguignon, Ragout de Veau, Fricassee de Poulet--but it's Latin-style eating at affordable prices. The lunch special is $7.40 and comes with dessert and soda. For breakfast, any omelette with potatoes is $3.75.

Even at these prices, business has been slow. Little Chez Brigitte tends to blend into the woodwork. I must have passed it a hundred times before I noticed it and bothered to stick my head inside. So here it is. It's good, it's cheap, it's the real deal. Now go--before they're gone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Remarkably, after much construction and stop work orders, 27 E. 7th Street has become a (illegal?) hostel. Down by the Hipster reported this, Curbed commented, and Hostel World has all the details (free pizza parties!), but I didn't really believe it until I looked up last night and saw the rooms filled with bunkbeds and sleepy-eyed young Asians:


CBGB's will be a John Varvatos, but the 313 Gallery will still be a gallery--Morrison Hotel is moving into #313 and a little bit of rock-n-roll history remains on the Bowery, if only in museum form. It's better than another bank. The first show will feature work by rock photographer Steve Joester. [Stupefaction]

Here comes Karl Fischer. Despite protests to the plans to demolish these little buildings on 13th Street and replace them with a giant hotel, the first sign of demolition has appeared: The rat poison is out!


Celebrate 125 years of the Chelsea Hotel at the Museum of the City of New York. [Living w/Legends]

NYC construction accidents only to get worse--as billions of building dollars and another million people flood into the city. [Curbed]

Go inside an East Village open house--where you can get a teeny studio and access to a crappy rooftop "deck" for just $2,900. [EVG]

Ah, the disparity of NYC economics: See a family of 5 living in a two-room on Ludlow ($?) and then check out an empty two-bedroom in the Plaza ($16,500 per month!) just waiting for a single out-of-towner to call "not home."

What was once the Tiffany Diner, once beloved of drag queens, club kids, and leatherdaddies, and situated in a 1929 landmarked building, will now be...a Bank of America:

8th Street Ghost Town

Back in 2006, The Real Deal covered the demise of 8th Street's shoe stores, reporting that "Since the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, 24 of 54 shoe stores have closed, a devastating percentage." Since then, that number has most certainly gone up.



The street is a ghost town of soaped-over windows, for rent signs, and going out of business banners. Rugged Sole is currently holding a "Business Sucks" sale. The sidewalks are empty, which actually makes 8th Street a pleasant route for walking unmolested by jerks with giant shopping bags, drunken college students, and entitled Wall Streeters. It's a place to be (almost) alone. But that is going to change. Fast.



After the onslaught of rent hikes, the street has been in a holding pattern, waiting for super-gentrification to wash away the urine and incense vendors. Recently, the luxurification arrived.



In a space once occupied by a club called 8th Wonder, where Jimi Hendrix used to play, upscale restaurant Elletaria just opened. The crowds are pouring in for pigs feet and sweetbreads--washed down with the 8th Wonder cocktail--and I predict that its presence will tip the scales on 8th Street once and for all.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Join VNY Flickr Group

Many readers send in photos of places they love and are losing, interesting old signage, and other vanishing items. It's great--I can't be in all places at all times. So I've started a Flickr group:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/vanishingnewyork/

The group is open, so please join and add any photos--and descriptions--you think fit the category. I'll do my best to get them onto the blog.

Thanks!

*Everyday Chatter

Life's been hard for the shoe stores of 8th Street. Rugged Sole is holding a "Business Sucks" sale as most of its neighbors have shut down:


Coney Island opens! Perhaps for the final season of Astroland. [BIB]

Rundowns of recent construction accidents as the rush to super-gentrification continues. [Gothamist] [Lost City]

These days, many of us live anxiously in the shadow of teetering cranes. [City Room] [EVG]

Others tremble in the shadow of cell-phone towers. [PMFA]

I wrote about Extra Place in January--more recently, the Real Deal revealed the developers' dream for a "park-like environment that fosters a sense of community with lots of small retail shops and cafés." Whose sense of community will it foster? Just take a look at the cream-of-wheat folks in the rendering below. And here's the prediction: "It's like what Jeffrey did to the Meatpacking District." Couldn't be more prescient! [RD]

P.S. Both Curbed and Eater picked up my coverage of this debacle, and their readers' comments are worth checking out--for once, most are in agreement this plan is putrid.

Panic sets in as Brooklyn liquor store changes hands. [Brklynometry]

Miss Heather invents a fun new game: Gentrification Bingo! This is good stuff--send her your contributions. [NYShitty]

Ronald McDonald gets on stage at The Apollo--and a small note tells us that the Apollo is 1 in a total of only 4 landmarked buildings in Harlem, a neighborhood on the brink of being plucked clean by super-gentrification. [NYO]

Since Fontana's officially closed, Angelo has been going in to the shop every morning. I've seen him sitting by the window, reading an Italian newspaper, and I thought, Maybe he's holding out for a possible reprieve, maybe there's hope. Then I saw this sign:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Armando's

My last (and first) meal at Armando's 72-year-old restaurant in Brooklyn Heights was enjoyed this weekend beneath a water-damaged portrait of Marilyn Monroe, one-time habitue of the place, back when Arthur Miller lived in the neighborhood and the two were falling in love. The Brooklyn Dodgers drank here. So did Norman Mailer. But beginning in the mid-1990s, with an influx of chain stores to Montague Street, Armando's began to feel the pinch.


more photos @ my flickr

It was quiet at lunchtime, only a few tables occupied. At the bar, the regulars gathered for last drinks. "Where ya going?" they asked each other, wondering what the new hangout would be after Armando's is gone. Shrugs all around. Mancuso's? Harry's? "That's long gone, didn't you know." Callahan's? Joe's? "You can all come up to my apartment!" Laughter.



The place was closing at 9:00, the free drinks would start at 6:00, they said, but keep it quiet. Someone wisecracked, "I swear to God, if a stranger comes in here for free drinks, I'll break his arms." More laughter. Hugs and kisses as familiar faces came and went. They exchanged phone numbers. "Call me," they said, "Let's stay in touch. We'll have lunch." But where? Armando's is gone and only the chain stores and the fast-food joints will remain.