Monday, March 17, 2008


My last (and first) meal at Armando's 72-year-old restaurant in Brooklyn Heights was enjoyed this weekend beneath a water-damaged portrait of Marilyn Monroe, one-time habitue of the place, back when Arthur Miller lived in the neighborhood and the two were falling in love. The Brooklyn Dodgers drank here. So did Norman Mailer. But beginning in the mid-1990s, with an influx of chain stores to Montague Street, Armando's began to feel the pinch.

more photos @ my flickr

It was quiet at lunchtime, only a few tables occupied. At the bar, the regulars gathered for last drinks. "Where ya going?" they asked each other, wondering what the new hangout would be after Armando's is gone. Shrugs all around. Mancuso's? Harry's? "That's long gone, didn't you know." Callahan's? Joe's? "You can all come up to my apartment!" Laughter.

The place was closing at 9:00, the free drinks would start at 6:00, they said, but keep it quiet. Someone wisecracked, "I swear to God, if a stranger comes in here for free drinks, I'll break his arms." More laughter. Hugs and kisses as familiar faces came and went. They exchanged phone numbers. "Call me," they said, "Let's stay in touch. We'll have lunch." But where? Armando's is gone and only the chain stores and the fast-food joints will remain.


Anonymous said...

Friends of mine in Brooklyn are just crushed by this. I regret not ever taking them up on meeting them for drinks there.

Anonymous said...

I've had Spicy Pickle. Their food is absolutely disgusting.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Not related to this, but wanted to report. Went to the Irish Rock Revue on Saturday night, which raised a lot of money for St. Brigid's, the threatened church on Avenue B, which was built by Irish who had fled the famine. In an astonishing turn of events, the church's case is being reviewed. (Sorry, I don't remember by which court. It was a St. Patrick's Day celebration, after all.) There is a chance that it will survive. I'm an atheist, but an Irish one, and this church should survive both as a monument to those that built it, and as a living church to serve the community. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

This new sign-on method continues to confound me. Barbara (x-eyedblonde) is just the same old BaHa.

Anonymous said...

ARGH! This is depressing...very depressing. Montague St. has changed over the last few years, and not for the better. The cell phone stores moved in, and it became a series of that and a bunch of mediocre ethnic restaurants.

There used to be Armando's, there was a music store, a book store, a comic book store, an art-print store, shoe, they're gone. The chains have moved in to suck the old traditions of another neighborhood.

This place had a great charm. New York's mallification continues.