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Metro Diner, at 100th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, opened in 1989. CreditAn Rong Xu for The New York Times

For the past 25 years — since the divorce — I’ve lived a good part of my life in diners. Without them I might be slimmer, but also crazier and more unhappy. Judging by the crowds at the Metro Diner, on 100th Street and Broadway, my current haunt, I suspect that other New Yorkers feel the same way.

To say that the Metro has become my second home would be too vague and sentimental. Better to use the sociological term “the third place” (home and work being the first two), or to quote Robert Frost, the place “where, when you have to go there/ They have to take you in.”

麦哈顿第100街和百老汇的地铁餐馆,1989年开始营业。纽约时报记者徐安荣

自从我离婚以来,在过去的25年间,我生活的很大一部分是在餐馆中度过的。没有这些餐馆,我可能会变得更加苗条,但是也会更不开心甚至会发疯。我最近常去的餐馆是曼哈顿第100街和百老汇的地铁餐馆,从聚在这里的人群来看,我觉得这些纽约人跟我有相同的感受。

如果说地铁餐馆已经成了我的第二个家未免显得太隐晦感伤。有个社会学词“第三住处”可能更合适,家庭和工作场所分别是第一和第二住处。引用罗伯特弗罗斯特的诗“不管在什么时候,什么地方,他们都会敞开胸怀接纳你”。

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American coffee shops, like English pubs, Viennese coffee houses and Greek kaffenions, tend to engender klatches, informal clubs. At the old Key West Diner on 94th Street and Broadway, now known as the Manhattan Diner, the laughter of the comedian Anne Meara and her friends used to fill the room. And where would the sitcom classic “Seinfeld,” the idea of which was conceived in a coffee shop, have been without the regular scenes at Monk’s Café?

The best days of the New York City diner, however, appear to be over. Among the 2016 casualties were the Lyric Diner in Gramercy and the 40-year-old Del Rio in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, while La Parisienne near Columbus Circle and the 53-year-old Market Diner in Hell’s Kitchen closed in 2015. Then there was Cafe Edison, a 34-year-old coffee shop that shut in 2014 to much sadness in the Broadway community.

美国的咖啡店与英国的酒吧,维也纳的咖啡馆和希腊的咖啡厅一样,可供人们聊天、举行小型聚会。在第94街和百老汇的主西方餐馆,现在改名叫麦哈顿饭店,喜剧演员安妮米兰和他的朋友们经常在这里小聚。如果没有蒙克酒吧时常出现的场景,就不会有经典情景喜剧《宋飞正传》,其灵感就来自于咖啡店。

纽约城的餐馆时代似乎已经成为过去了。仅在2016年就有格拉梅西的利里克饭店和已经开了40年的在布鲁克林宾臣虚的抒情饭店关门歇业。在2015年,哥伦比亚商圈的香格里拉酒店和有53年历史的地狱厨房市场酒店也倒闭了。2014年,开了34年的百老汇艾德森咖啡馆也停止营业了。

 

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Inside the Metro Diner during the morning rush. CreditAn Rong xu for The New York Times

Manhattan has certainly seen more diner closings than other boroughs. That said, with rising costs in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, classic diners like the Neptune and Bel Aire, both in Astoria, Queens, could soon be under threat. In Downtown Brooklyn, the building that has housed the original Junior’s Restaurant since 1950 was almost sold. But after considering several offers, the owner Alan Rosen decided that the community still needed cheesecake more than luxury high-rises.

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在早上上班时间地铁酒吧其中一角。纽约时报记者徐安荣

麦哈顿区酒店倒闭的个数比其他地方都要多。随着周边的装修成本越来越高,皇后区阿斯托里亚的经典酒店海王星和艾尔贝尔将很快面临威胁中。在布鲁克林市中心,从1950年起就开始营业的朱尼尔酒店的大楼差点被卖掉。大楼的所属者艾伦罗森考虑到这个社区比起奢侈的高楼大厦可能更需要芝士蛋糕,因此没有被卖掉。

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Urban renewal, astronomical rents, changing eating habits and the preponderance of no-refill coffee places like Starbucks have all contributed to the demise of the New York diner. There are roughly half as many as there were 20 years ago, according to records from the health department.

Losing New York diner culture would probably be a watershed in the city’s history. How will New Yorkers get along without these antidotes to urban loneliness?

“The coffee shop orients us here, in this city and not another,” Jeremiah Moss, of the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, said. “If we are regulars, we become known, connected, to a network of people who remain over the span of years, even decades. In the anonymous city, these ties can be lifesavers, especially for the elderly, the poor, the marginal, but also for all of us. Without them, the city becomes evermore fragmented, disorienting and unrecognizable.”

城市换新,天价租金,饮食习惯的改变,再加上像星巴克这样的咖啡店不再免费为顾客续杯,这些原因都促成了纽约餐馆的消失。据健康部门的记录,今天的餐馆数量比20年前大概少了一半。

逐渐消失的餐厅文化可能是纽约历史上的分水岭。没有了餐厅文化,纽约城人如果克服城市孤独症?

“这些咖啡店使我们聚在一起”耶米利莫斯说,他说《耶米利看消失的纽约》博客的博主,“作为咖啡店的常客,我们相互认识,相互联系,这种关系可能会持续很多年,甚至是几十年。在这个无名的城市,这种联系可能是大家的救星,特别是对老人,穷苦的人,边缘人甚至是我们所有人都是如此。没有它们,我们的城市会变得更加的分崩离析,更加扭曲,也更陌生”。

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The Metro is a treasure trove of local history. It is in one of the few wood-frame buildings left in Manhattan. Built by the grocer Henry Grimm in 1871, it was bought in 1894 by the brewer Peter Doelger. He turned the ground floor into a restaurant and saloon, with families entering through the back while gentlemen drank beer in the front. (Around the same time, Mr. Doelger’s cousin Matilda married a prizefighter, John West, whose daughter Mae — yes, the Mae West — may have picked up some of her unconventional performance style from hanging around the Doelger bar.)

地铁酒吧对当地的历史来说是个宝藏,是麦哈顿城为数不多的木头建筑之一。这家酒吧是1871年杂货店老板亨利格林建造的,1894年啤酒制造商彼特德尔格将其买下,将一楼装成了饭店和沙龙。家里的男人们可以在前面喝酒,女人和孩子可以从后门进入。(同时,德尔格的表妹玛蒂尔达嫁给了一位拳击手,约翰韦斯特。没错,他们的女儿梅尔韦斯特不合传统的表演风格可能就是因为她经常在德尔格酒吧玩)。

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There are roughly half as many diners like Metro, pictured, in New York City as there were 20 years ago, according to records from the health department. CreditAn Rong Xu for The New York Times

Over the course of its existence, the Grimm building also housed a milliner’s shop, a tearoom and, in the 1950s, the rehearsal studio and offices of the avant-garde Living Theater.

The sociologist Ray Oldenburg, in “The Great Good Place,” a book about diners and taverns, suggests that the past is an essential element of all third places, which are usually in older sections of cities, and in those areas “exists the fading image of the city itself and the kind of human interaction, the easy and interesting mixing of strangers that made the city what it was.”

图片为地铁酒吧。据健康部门记录显示,在纽约城现在像地铁酒吧这样的咖啡店的数量比20年前减少了一半之多。纽约时报记者徐安荣

除了地铁酒吧,格林大厦里还有一家女帽商店,一家茶社,在上世纪90年代,这里还有排练室,还是先锋生活剧场的办公场所。

社会学家雷奥尔登堡在他的书《伟大的地方》里,描述了“第三住处”概念,这本书就是关于饭店和酒馆的。他说第三住处的关键在于过去,其地点也一般都在城市比较老的城市,在一些“逐渐失去自己城市标签和人际交往的地方,在这里陌生人可以交融在一起”。

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But not only what it was.

One of the charms of the Metro, and of many other diners in the city, is that the employees’ backgrounds are as varied as the languages spoken by the tourists who have found their way here. Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico, Poland, Romania — these are just a few of the countries where staff members come from. Together they constitute a microcosm of the immigrant groups that continue to arrive in New York — who not only made the city what it was, but the best of what it is and could be.

My first diner nesting place was Harvey’s Coffee Shop on 78th and Broadway, in Manhattan, where I would order matzo ball soup and a Coke after seeing my therapist across the street. Harvey was known for his Yiddish-speaking Puerto Rican countermen and for serving deliciously seasoned chopped meat on white bread.

但咖啡馆的意义却不止是这些

地铁酒吧和其他类似酒吧的魅力之一,就是酒吧的员工来自于各个说不同语言的国家的游客。哥斯达黎加,厄瓜多尔,希腊,墨西哥,波兰,罗马尼亚——这些国家仅仅是酒吧员工国籍的一部分。他们加起来形成了纽约城市文化的不断增加的移民组织文化的缩影。他们的存在不仅造就了我们的城市也使我们的城市更加美好。

我第一个小巢咖啡厅是在麦哈顿第78号街百老汇的哈维咖啡馆,在这里我会点上一份面包球汤和一杯可乐,看着我的治疗师们在街上走过。哈维咖啡厅很有名,因为它有个说意第绪语的收银员,它做的白面包配熟红碎肉也很好吃。

 

 

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After Harvey’s closed, I moved to theUtopia on 73rd and Amsterdam, a venerable place with a low ceiling, Greek-themed murals and waiters who seemed to never age. As my thighs outgrew the narrow booths, I moved to the Central Park Cafe/Restaurant, at 97th and Columbus.

Metro is in one of the few wood-frame buildings left in Manhattan. CreditAn Rong xu for The New York Times

In the late 1990s, the Cafe replaced Michael’s Pub, where Woody Allen played clarinet once a week. This was the liveliest of my hangouts. Every morning a group of retired men in baseball caps, along with a spirited Jayne Mansfield look-alike, heckled one another and batted sports statistics back and forth for hours. The music of their banter was pure Bach counterpoint.

在哈维咖啡馆关了之后,我改去了阿姆斯特丹73号大街的乌托邦,这是个受人尊敬的地方,有着低低的天花板、希腊主题的壁画和似乎永不变老的服务员。随着我的大腿慢慢长得比狭窄的卡座更宽之后,我改去了哥伦布97号大街的中央公园咖啡馆/餐馆。

Metro是曼哈顿遗留下来的少有的木质结构建筑之一。图片来源:An Rong xu《纽约时报》

在20世纪90年代末期,这个咖啡馆取代了迈克尔酒吧,伍迪·艾伦每周都在那里吹一次竖笛。这是我常去的地方中最热闹的那个。每天早上,一群带着棒球帽的退休男人,还有一个精神饱满的、长得像简·曼斯菲尔德的人,他们待上几个小时,互相起哄,反复讨论体育统计。他们谈笑的音乐是巴赫复调。

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After the Cafe succumbed in 2005, I spent months looking for my next “third place.” Diner regulars can be particular. The ambience has to be friendly but not intrusive, the sound level low but not funereal, the smell a little greasy but not cloying, and the décor more utilitarian than fussy. I eventually settled in at the Metro.

Among diners, the Metro is quietly sophisticated. The décor is self-consciously Art Deco, the booths spacious. There is a generous, though tasteful, use of diner decorator staples like vinyl, Formica and chrome. Politicians, including former Gov. David A. Paterson of New York and the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, have been spotted in the booths. The hostess, Jenny Bello, wears outfits that could rival the wardrobe collection from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in the 1950s.

这家咖啡馆在2005年倒闭之后,我花了好几个月来寻找我的下一个“第三住处”。餐厅的客人可以比较特殊,餐厅的氛围要友好一点不要太激进,播放的音乐可以低沉一点又不会像哀乐,气味可以重一些但是不要太刺鼻,口味可以更大众一些不用过分挑剔。最后我选择了地铁酒吧。

在所有的咖啡馆中,地铁酒吧情况有些复杂。它家的装饰很有艺术范,座位很宽敞。室内用了聚乙烯,福美家和铬元素等一系列的装饰材料。一些政治家,包括纽约州的前州长大卫A帕特森和审计员,都曾到过这家餐馆。服务员珍妮贝罗穿的衣服可以与Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer电影公司收藏的衣柜里的所有衣服相媲美。

 

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Fanis Tsiamtsiouris, known as Frank, and Fotios Hilas own the Metro along with three other diners. They calculated that the Metro poured about 700 cups of coffee, made 150 hamburgers and used over 1,200 eggs every day. The place opened in 1989, when Mr. Tsiamtsiouris consolidated five stores, among them a kosher butcher, a copy store and a Cuban-Chinese restaurant.

Though diners are sometimes bought by other enterprising immigrants, many of the surviving ones are still owned by Greek-Americans. Historians differ on how and when Greek immigrants got into the business, but they agree that a growth spurt occurred right after World War II. Their story is a classic American one that combines entrepreneurs putting in long hours, families helping one another and informal associations creating a safety net of connections.

Fanis Tsiamtsiouris也以Frank和Fotios Hilas两个名字著称,他拥有Metro和其他三家餐馆。他们计算过,Metro每天要斟近700杯咖啡,做150个汉堡,用掉超过1200个鸡蛋。这个地方开于1989年,那时Tsiamtsiouris先生合并了五家店,其中有一家犹太认证的肉店、一家复印店和一家古巴华人饭店。

尽管餐馆有时候是由事业心重的移民购买,但许多幸存的餐馆仍是有希裔美国人拥有。关于希腊移民如何及何时涉入此类生意,历史学家们尚在争论,但二战后呈井喷增长这一点,他们都一致同意。他们的故事是传统的美式故事,由企业家长时间投入、家庭间互帮互助以及非正式联盟共同创建一个安全的关系网组成。

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Employees’ backgrounds at Metro are as varied as the languages spoken by the tourists who have found their way there. Greece, Mexico and Poland are just a few of the countries where staff members come from.CreditAn Rong Xu for The New York Times

“When my family came over in 1967, we had an $8,000 debt to pay, so we all went to work,” Mr. Tsiamtsiouris said. “So first I was a cleanup guy, then busboy, then a waiter, then a manager.” He had one uncle in the business when he started out, he recalled, and he met many other owners throughPan Gregorian, a food industry cooperative.

Metro餐馆雇员的背景和找来这里的游客所讲语言一样变化多端。希腊、墨西哥和波兰只是一小部分职员的家乡。图片来源:An Rong Xu《纽约时报》

Tsiamtsiouri先生说:“1967年,当我们一家到来时,我们尚欠了一笔8000美金的债,所以我们全家都出来工作。所以,我最初是一个清洁工,后来是一个餐馆工,再后来是一个服务员,然后是一个经理。”他回想起他刚起步的时候,有一个叔叔在商界,然后他通过一家叫Pan Gregorian食品工业合作社认识了许多其他餐馆老板。

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In the back of the Metro’s long room, the area is set up with small tables for regulars like me who linger over breakfast. Rosa and Dumitra, Diana and John, and Enid and Fabiano know what we’re going to order, but pretend to let us decide.

For years the unofficial queen of the Metro was Batyah Hyman, also known as Betty, a beautiful, 80-something Swedish and South African woman who sat at the head of the room. I don’t remember how we drifted into conversation — probably a political issue that we disagreed about. Somehow we sensed that we could be friends, or at least “affiliated,” the way Mr. Oldenburg, the sociologist, described friendship among regulars at a place like the Metro.

在Metro长长的房间的后头,这个区域设了几张小桌,用来招待像我这样慢吞吞吃早餐的老客。罗莎和杜米特、戴安娜和约翰以及伊妮德和法比亚诺都知道我们会要点什么,但假装让我们自己决定。

数年中,Batyah Hyman一直是Metro的非正式女王,她也以贝蒂一名著称,她是个漂亮的、80多岁的瑞典南非混血的、坐在房间前头的女人。我不记得我们是如何聊起来的——也许是因一个我们互不赞同的政治话题。不知怎么的,我们感觉我能成为朋友,或至少是“交好”,也就是社会学家奥登堡先生所形容的在像Metro这样地方的常客之间的友谊。

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She lives around the corner, but Ms. Hyman no longer eats breakfast at the Metro. She drops by from time to time, and the waitress Rosa Soto babysits her grandchildren. Nobody has dared to claim her table.

A few years ago, one of my oldest friends, the political scientist and philosopher Marshall Berman, died in the Metro. An eloquent writer about New York neighborhoods, I think he would have appreciated his heart’s choice of where to expire.

她住在拐角处,但海曼女士不再在Metro吃早饭,她不时来串个门儿,女服务员罗莎·索托照看她的孙辈。没人敢要她那张桌子。

数年前,我最老的朋友之一,政治科学家及哲学家马歇尔·伯曼死于Metro。他是个雄辩的、撰写纽约邻居的作家,我想他会感激他心中所选的死亡之地。

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