05:28:16 pm on
Monday 15 Jul 2024

The Tick-Tock Diner
AJ Robinson

When I was a youngster, I watched the I Love Lucy show and found it hilarious. I remember one episode where Lucy and Ricky had a bet. Ricky would try to hold his temper in check, whereas Lucy would refrain from buying more clothes.

• The bet is confounded.

Lucy lost the bet in roughly one day or not even that. She bought a hat and arranged for delivery in a couple days. She needed that long to get Ricky to lose his temper.

She worked hard to break Ricky. In truth, he was too strong, but the fates worked against him. After negotiating, with an agent, to get a new act for his show, Ricky realized the importance of keeping his cool.

Thus, Ricky called off the bet. He tells Lucy to celebrate by going out and buying something nice. She races to the phone, pretends to call a story to place an order; she has a hat delivered using their fastest, speediest delivery service.

No sooner has she hung up than the doorbell rings. It’s the hat. Ricky is immediately suspicious.

Finally, he forces the truth out of her. The scene does not end well for Lucy. In fact, you could say she literally gets it in the end.

A while back, that storyline popped into my head during a meal at a restaurant, in New York City, where Jo Ann, my wife, and I had breakfast. We were in NYC to see the musical Babies. My old friend, Anthony Gruppuso, was starring in the show.

We decided to try local diners instead of chain restaurants for our meals. One morning, we went to the Tick-Tock Diner, which is a huge place. Breakfast seemed its big meal of the day. Once seated, we placed our order and in roughly ten seconds, it was on our table, ready to eat.

• Was that fast or what?

Such swift service blew us away. I couldn’t understand it. How could they have done our exact order in under a minute?

Now, Jo is a city girl; she knew how things worked there and she explained it. A place, such as the Tick-Tock Diner, has huge overhead. After all, it’s New York City, where land values and normal expenses are massive.

For Tick-Tock to pay the bills and profit, it must serve a great deal of bacon and eggs, so to speak. The only way to do that was to streamline the process.

The kitchen was in the cellar. The cooks simply churned out a continuous flow of the same items: scrambled eggs, eggs over easy, bacon, sausage, white toast, everything bagels, muffins and so forth. When an order came from the dining hall, the items were already prepared and lined up, waiting for a runner to bring the order to the correct table.

Short of a fast food restaurant, it was the fastest meal I’d ever had and, yet, it was very good. That was another aspect of life in the Big Apple. Businesses there have to be fast and they have to be good and vice versa.

• We thoroughly enjoyed the Tick-Tock Diner.

"Meals Around the Clock,” is the Tick-Tock Diner slogan. It’s definitely fast and good. If you find yourself in NYC and in need a fast breakfast, anytime of day, it’s the place. The Tick-Tock Diner is located at 481 Eighteenth Avenue, near the corner of Thirty-Fourth Street, not far from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. Busiest times at the Tick-Tock Diner are around 9 am and midnight.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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