Irene, we hardly knew ye!

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the September 2011 flier, Robin recollects our own hurricane response operation…

WE DECIDE TO DO SATURDAY BRUNCH.  As of noon there will be no public transportation.  Oy!  Our new and lovely assistant manager, Scott, who lives on Long Island, manages to commandeer a car and offers to drive people home on a circuitous route via Spanish Harlem, the RFK Bridge, and Queens.  Scott hosts; James comes in from around the corner and mans the bar; Eli walks down from Chelsea, Bonnie makes it in from Brooklyn and Shannon from Spanish Harlem; they wait tables.  Pablo and Luis make their usual superb brunch.  Great good spirits and suddenly it’s 4.  We give a last call, do our various closing routines and pat ourselves on our collective back.  Of course, just after Scott sets sail with his entire entourage, the chilling plate in the bar sink springs a leak.  Santiago, Juan and Robin, natural born plumbers that they are, wonder what kind of gas is frothing forth, and how long before the café explodes or we expire . . . miraculously, with scissors, a screwdriver and a plumber’s clamp, they manage to stanch the flow.  It’s Saturday, so there will be no garbage collection at midnight—we couldn’t put it out anyhow because of the winds—so we make our final sweeps, lock up and say, “See you on Monday!”

HOWEVER, the storm having slipped through on little cat feet, Chef Dan and Robin decide to open on Sunday at 4 if they can round up a crew.  Romulo picks up Fernando and Justin in Queens; our lovely manager, Rebecca, finds a cab way uptown and hastens down to tend bar, Robin drives his son, Sasha, who played a gig here on Friday, in from Brooklyn and we manage to get Kari to take car service in.  Wow! Are we slammed!  Anderson Cooper had been on CNN at the corner of 6th Avenue and W4th Street earlier in the day, bemoaning the lack of open eateries.  Anderson, thou shouldst be living at this hour!

A FRENCH FAMILY of 3 wants to sit at one of the tables in the bar room but they are occupied.  Why this particular table?  Well, they had been here a few nights before and they wanted to have their last meal in New York at the same table.  Where had they come from?  81st Street.  And how had they come?  Mais à pied, bien entendu!

AN ITALIAN FAMILY of five manages to get a table outside.  The patriarch, who is in a wheelchair, explains that they are here on a mission—“an appointment with destiny.”  Thirty years before, as a young man, before his accident, he had worked in a record store in Vicenza, where he now teaches mathematics.  He had sold ten copies of the legendary Cornelia Street album—“more than Bob Dylan”—and he had come to visit the shrine.  Robin takes down the original photo of the musicians and the two pictures of the street which made up the original cover, scrounges from the bar a copy of the CD (a 10th anniversary edition with seven or eight more songs recorded on the same day as the original) and presents it to him.  Much embracing and signing of autographs and an appointment with destiny fulfilled . . .

A LADY NAMED IRENE writes in to say a friend had forwarded an e-mail in which we had blamed her for canceling our shows on Saturday and Sunday.  How unfair!  The least we could do was buy her a drink!!  We replied, commiserating and concurring.  Irene, come in and claim your drink!!!

Robin Hirsch, 2011


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