It's not vanishing just yet, but like Manatus, Hector's Cafe & Diner is an oasis of authenticity and affordability in a sea of bullshit, so it might be a good idea to go soon, as the grimly reaping High Line hovers above and the new Whitney Museum rises at Hector's backside.
As the last affordable place to eat in the Meatpacking District, it's good to see Hector's diner busy. On this day it's filled with working class men with dirt on their hands; beefy guys with silver hair, thick necks, and Brooklyn accents; tourist couples traveling on the cheap; a handful of meatpackers in blood-smeared white smocks; and one young woman in fashiony shoes reading a Kindle while thumbing her iPhone.
The thick-necked, silver-haired guys are talking about how they have to go here and there, making sure things are being done right at various sites.
One gets a call on his cell. He answers it, "Is this my ex-wife calling? Yeah, so whata you tellin' me? I'm eatin' lunch here with Joey and you gotta call and irritate me? Well, I'm busy, too. Tomorrow I'm going to a Broadway show with my new girlfriend. We're gonna eat out and the whole bit."
He grins at Joey, a grin that says, "Am I bustin' her balls or what?" Joey grins back in agreement.
The proprietor chats with a tourist couple. When the woman says, "The High Line has really brought up business here," he corrects her, "No, the High Line brought up the rent! Up and up and up! Not business." He says, "In 10 years, Manhattan will be all rich people and the homeless."
Outside, supporting his prophecy, black and white SUVs go gleaming past. We can see one of the last meatpacking plants, shuttered, covered in street art, awaiting demolition as the nearby sidewalk cafe bursts with customers, all of them texting into phones, heads down, ignoring one another.
photo by the restroom
But inside, for now, there's still the scrape and clang of spatula on griddle, the attendant sizzle as burger after burger gets dressed and ready. On the Pepsi fridge, a sticker says "God Bless America." On the wall, a poster proclaims the gyro as "the tastiest sandwich in town."
Time has stopped here. We wait, anxiously, for it to catch up.
after a rush