Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Apple Strudel


Today is the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Pastry Shop.  I've loved this place a long time, though not quite fifty years. I started going there to drink coffee in dark corners before I moved to the Upper West Side - before I even lived in New York - when I came to town to visit a friend who was finishing a grad program at nearby Columbia.

After I became a New Yorker myself, I loved to visit the cafe whenever I could.  It's not fancy.  The coffee is only ok.  But it's old-school old-world, a gathering place, a spot to study for a poli-sci exam or perhaps foment a revolution at a dimly-lit table in the back.  It's authentic.  It has character.  It has strudel.

You can read a sweet article about the place here.  I love how very little has really changed there in fifty years. 

So much is changing nowadays on the Upper West Side.  And it's not the good kind of change (in my opinion) (for what it's worth).  Family-owned businesses are losing their leases and being replaced with generic national chain stores.  Books stores are ousted for discount clothing outlets.  Brownstones are demolished to make way for high-rise luxury condos. 

What has become of the independent, intellectual, literary Upper West Side of yore? 

Find a piece of it - still alive and well - at the Hungarian Pastry Shop.

Happy Birthday, you bastion of bohemia, you.

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