Monday, January 18, 2010
Phyllie's American Style Diner
They built the restaurant to look like Phillies in the painting, though the 2 AM feel of Hopper's masterpiece could never be recreated in the Albert Street diner. Laverstone council statutes dictated that any hostelry serving food be closed by midnight.
Still, Phyllie's American Diner opened at six to catch the breakfast run and closed at midnight after the pubs closed but before the nightclubs spat out teenagers drunk on sweet cider and sugared vodka, Phyllis Hunter. the owner/manager invested all her savings and her husband's redundancy money in the place, taking out two walls of the old grocer's shop and replacing it with plate glass (and, prudently, electric shutters) and decorating the inside with beech wood tables and leather-covered seats.
Charlie Hunter found a new lease of life as the evening short-order cook. Away from Phyllis' dictates he found pleasure in talking to his customers, becoming conversant with their jobs, their families, their lives. It was just the luck of the draw, he said, that it kept him out of the house in the evenings, returning long after Phyllis was in bed and sleeping until lunchtime.
Charlie and Phyllis made a point of sharing the evening meal together at home. 4:00 PM until 6:00 was their special time, sacrosanct against all but their daughter Judy. "The diner was the secret of our marriage," Charlie said at Phyllis' funeral several years late. "We only saw each other for two hours a day. Every moment was a date with a girlfriend."