Wednesday, April 25, 2012

341 Grand Street: Site Of Grand Street Dairy Restaurant

The photo was taken sometime in the late 1940's. The view is Grand Street looking east towards Ludlow Street. The Dairy Restaurant (although I don't know that was it's incarnation at the time) can be seen at the extreme right. My mother is in the top row on the left. My aunt is seated in the middle. For more about that restaurant, an excerpt from a 1988 nytimes article
2 Waiters and Their Producer Dine at a Source of Inspiration By RICHARD F. SHEPARD Published: November 10, 1988 ''Enter, two Jewish waiters.'' Now what kind of stage direction is that in a script for the New York Shakespeare Festival? It may have been that Joseph Papp, the founder and head of the festival, was evading an answer. But more likely, he never heard the question above the gustatory din at the Grand Dairy Restaurant, Grand Street at the corner of Ludlow Street, on the Lower East Side. Mr. Papp was accompanied by Bob Dishy and Fyvush Finkel, who nowadays are bringing an inspirational interpretation of tray chic to their central roles as Jewish waiters in Hy Kraft's ''Cafe Crown,'' a play based on the old Cafe Royal, which for decades was the center of the Yiddish theater's off-duty life on Second Avenue. The play is being produced by Mr. Papp and his festival at the Public Theater. Frank Rich, reviewing ''Cafe Crown'' in The New York Times, called it a ''feast of Jewish waiter jokes and Jewish theater jokes, heavily laced with schmaltz.'' He particularly praised the waiters - Mr. Dishy, ''his expression so dill-sour that even his tufts of hair seem exasperated,'' and Mr. Finkel, ''sure to say 'You'll love it!' to any irritating customer who alights upon one of the less palatable daily specials.'' In Other Words, an Interview The lunch on Grand Street was intended to install the professional theater people in suitable ambiance amid real Jewish waiters for the purpose of discussing how the actors achieved a credibility so overpowering in their roles as waiters that the audience might have picked up a check were it presented. Mr. Dishy and Mr. Finkel, projecting a thinly veiled contempt for their customers, evoke a world now hovering on the brink of oblivion. Wearing black jackets, black bow ties and full-length white aprons, they display tympanic virtuosity when it comes to slamming plates on the table. They intimidate diners, kibitz at card games, dish out philosophy and invariably spill half the tea from the glass. The Shakespeare Festival is meticulous about training its performers in swordplay, with an expert on hand to teach the finer points of the epee. Did Mr. Papp hire a Jewish waiter to instruct Mr. Dishy and Mr. Finkel in their roles? Did he show them how not to meet the eye of a complaining customer, how to put the thumb in the soup to indicate that it is not too hot to slurp, how to bring the potato pirogi to a table that wanted chopped liver? Did a licensed instructor teach them the shuffle that assures room temperature by the time a hot dish reaches the table? Necessary but Insufficient The answer again proved elusive. After all, every waiter who happens to be Jewish is not necessarily qualified as a Jewish waiter....
some KVers' comments:
I walked by there yesterday with my wife and told her about the restaurant. Most embarrassing was cutting class and seeing your teacher there.

I remember the dairy restaurant very well from my Seward days. Used to take out a cheese danish and coffee every so often when I stayed late to edit the sports column of the Seward World. Those were the days....

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