There's a window on 7th Avenue and 28th Street that has always attracted me, but only at night when it glows a yellow fluorescent glow behind a small gathering of dressmaker's dummies. The ceiling is pressed tin. A wall is hung with spindles of colored thread. Sometimes, you see the shape of a seamstress going by. It looks like a window into the past.
I've always been so captivated by the window that I never looked at what lies beneath it.
When I finally did, it was like a discovery. The Greek Corner Coffee Shop Diner, in business here since 1980, is another window into the past. (The building owner must be a decent human being to allow so much to remain.)
It has a long counter and matching tables covered in aquamarine Formica, a color perhaps meant to conjure memories of the Aegean sea. A poster of the Acropolis hangs above. At the other end, by the front window where it can be seen and admired, a hunk of gyro meat sits on its spit.
The Acropolis poster and the gyro rotisserie were once staples of the New York City dining experience. But we don't have many Greek coffee shop diners left. We don't have many coffee shop diners left. For now, we still have this one--with its sizzling eggs and sausages in the morning, its stacks of plates, its bread wrapped in wax paper from Bakers Best, its poster in the window boasting "We Make the Best Burger in NYC."
The Greek Corner Coffee Shop Diner also has an ancient cash register--and it's a Faerman, straight from the Bowery. When I tell the cashier that I love her cash register she tells me, "You love it? You can have it," and demonstrates how difficult it is to push the antique buttons. Her boss is old-fashioned, she explains, as the drawer pops out. It is lined in weathered wood. Gorgeous. "Take it," the cashier says, "Take it!"