Monday, October 15, 2007
The Stage Deli is celebrating its 70th anniversary tomorrow with klezmer music and reduced prices on its astronomically priced sandwiches. That's good because who in their right mind pays 20 bucks for a pastrami on rye? Anyway, the place has been around for 70 years and that's saying something.
The waitstaff is seasoned, but the "flair" on their vest fronts reminded me of the kids at TGI Friday's. In fact, the whole place kind of reminded me of a suburbanite's idea of "New York deli." The counter, where I sat, was not a lunch counter. There was no Formica, no chrome swivel stools. It was a shellacked wooden bar with high chairs, the kind of setup you find in an Outback Steakhouse.
And the joint is lousy with tourists. They line up around the block so they can order matzo ball soup and talk about it like it's something exotic. The Mom seated next to me could not stand the fact that the sullen counterman had failed to inquire about which state in the union she hailed from.
"Don't you ever like to ask people where they're from?" she asked.
"Sometimes, but not all the time," said the counterman, mixing an egg cream with Hershey's chocolate syrup.
"But aren't you curious?" she pressed.
"I know where you're from," he said, "I can read your t-shirt."
"We're not from Boston," she gloated, "I got this shirt on a vacation. We're from the capital of the United States of America. You know, Washington, D.C."
The counterman looked suitably unimpressed.
According to Time Out, the Stage pays about a million dollars a year in rent, so I guess they really do need to sell those pastrami sandwiches for $20.