I haz a sad
This is heartbreaking. Peter and I loved this place.
Yesterday, after months of ominous rumors, Big Nick’s Pizza and Burger Joint closed its vaunted doors for good. The fifty-one-year-old Upper West Side establishment, nestled on a busy block of Broadway between Seventy-sixth and Seventy-seventh Streets, reportedly had its rent jump by over forty thousand dollars a month, and could no longer outrun Manhattan’s ever-rotating wheel of real estate.
Calling Big Nick’s a throwback is not quite right—the restaurant pieced together its strange identity out of the anachronistic bric-a-brac of a dozen times and places. The walls were fettered with a series of anonymous D-list celebrity portraits—not always signed by their subjects—and hand-written notices informing you of the price of a slice of cheesecake ($5.50). Red neon signs hung overhead, casting a bloody glow on your burger, while a tiny television screen perched in the corner played a constant loop of Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin films. The hassled and brusque waiters had to shoulder their way through the cooks in the tiny open kitchen, which operated for twenty-three hours a day.
The menu—a copy of which I keep in my desk to this day—is twenty-five pages long and includes every conceivable type of diner food known to man. There were over thirty variations of Big Nick’s excellent half-pound burger—including the Hawaiian Burger, the Crabcake Burger, and the Kobe Burger—although none could compare to the sublime Bacon Cheeseburger, a triumph of greasy elegance…
Manhattan real estate in a nut-shell: the rent jumped $40,000 per month. In many states,that rent jump buys an entire house.