Personal journal entry July 28, 1995:
I went into the Grand Luncheonette today for a Coca-Cola. A little hole-in-the-wall of vintage chrome and orange formica, set beneath the shade of a burned-out movie marquee, its few remaining bulbs still burning. I sat on the swivel stool and watched 42nd Street. I watched the flies hum around the ketchup bottles, the man turning hot dogs, the big cans of sauerkraut and chili stacked under the greasy counter. A fan turned and stirred up the dirt. Nothing much happened.
I finished my soda and walked down 42nd, looking at the things in the windows of all the head shops along the Deuce--Magic Shaving Powder, Spanish fly ointment, corn-cob pipes, Rough Rider condoms. Men called out from shadowed doorways, “One-dolla, one-dolla, one-dolla. Live nude girls." I looked in the window of the Martial Arts Shopping Center, at the mechanical Victorinox army knife, folding and unfolding its blades. I looked at all the knives and the brass knuckles and the swords. I looked into a window full of books with titles like: How to Pick Up Girls, How to Create a New Identity, and How to Build Your Own Bazooka.
photo by Andrew Moore
Luncheonette's Grill Turns Off for Good
By RANDY KENNEDY
The New York Times, October 20, 1997
Most of the regulars could be found at the Grand Luncheonette yesterday, parked on the stools or bellied up to the counter.
There was Abdul El-Amin, who started coming regularly 25 years ago for knishes after kung-fu movies. There was Officer Charles Mitchell, who has patrolled Times Square for a decade and often stopped by for a hot dog (95 cents) with sauerkraut (5 cents extra). And there was Pops, a toothless 42d Street regular who could not remember exactly how long he had been eating there.
"Since forever, why don't we leave it at that," said Pops, who left his name at "just Pops."
As he has for 58 years in the neighborhood, Fred Hakim, the owner, wore his stained white fry-cook's jacket and dished out fare as delectable as it was profoundly greasy. He enforced the prohibitions tacked on the mirror behind the counter: "No Loitering. No Spitting. No Water. No Ice." And he held forth as a humble historian of the Deuce, as he still likes to call 42d Street west of Seventh Avenue.
But Mr. Hakim, 69, had a hard time keeping it all from sounding like a valedictory. After more than 25 years in its closet-sized space at 229 West 42d Street, the Grand Luncheonette spent its last day on 42d Street yesterday.
Still from the film Grand Luncheonette: Watch it here.
It is being closed as part of the Times Square redevelopment project, which has shuttered dozens of the neighborhood's older businesses -- many of them sex-oriented -- to make way for sparkling new restaurants, theaters and retail stores.
...As word spread last week that his luncheonette was closing, Mr. Hakim became a celebrity on the television news. Yesterday, as the cameras returned, his wife, Jane, made a final plea to any Times Square landlord not yet wedded to fancy coffee or Disney outlets.
"There must still be a market out there," she said, "for someone who wants a plain old hot dog and a knish."
text Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company