02 December 2012

A Stage Deli Memory From 1969

The Stage Deli in midtown Manhattan closed last Thursday after 75 years in business, the victim of rent hikes and a bad economy. To show how much New York character the place had, enjoy the New York Times write-up from July 5, 1969:
Jewish waiters—who are used to giving the orders—turned polite and deferred to astonished customers yesterday.
It was Independence Day, and the independent Jewish waiter marked the day in the most signal of ways, with a startling change of face.
It has been said that Israel won the Six-Day War by putting guns into the hands of Jewish waiters—but yesterday they laid down their arms. Snarls were out; smiles were in. Waiters grown irascible on endless chopped liver and chicken soup beamed with good nature. From every pore oozed the sour cream of human kindness....
At the Stage Delicatessen on Seventh Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, a waiter tried earnestly to explain the startling change. "It's Independence Day," he said brightly, "and who could be more independent than the Jewish waiter?"...
But it was difficult. When a customer asked a waiter at the Stage why he wasn't wearing a name badge, he replied: "Why should I wear my name? Everybody calls me names, anyway."...
A policeman who walked into the Stage Delicatessen looked incredulously about him at the strangely happy multitude. Then the manage said playfully, "You're under arrest."
"All right," said the man in blue, "as long as you keep me in here."

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