Hebrew School


Sunset Park Donut
September 6, 2007, 6:31 pm
Filed under: brooklyn, sunset park | Tags:

Gentrification is a phenomenon that you often hear about but much less occasionally witness beyond a glance. Over time, living in a neighborhood and watching it slowly gentrify has yielded a lot more nuance to my thoughts about the issue. I live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a neighborhood known for its amazing Mexican and Latin food as well as its own bustling Chinatown. Although, I should watch my weasels, since most people I speak to about my neighborhood (if they don’t think it’s in Queens) know it for the Melody Lanes bowling alley or Greenwood Cemetery.

I’m not one to shed crocodile tears or feign guilt about gentrification, in order to merely substantiate the fact that I am somehow “privileged” to whoever’s in earshot. And I won’t tell the same old story you’re likely to have heard one too many times, about how as a musician I moved here x years ago and there weren’t x plastic weekly boxes by the subway, thrift stores, or people without melanin in their skin. But I do need to tell you about a diner.

There used to be a diner on 39th and 5th, right next to the Jackie Gleason bus depot, that I would go to fairly regularly. It was called 39th Street Donuts. Here’s a picture I found of the old exterior:

It had a wide range of food, which is to say from very shitty (home fries and bacon sitting on the grill all morning) to very good (pancakes, meatloaf sandwich). Regardless of the quality of the food, the waitresses were always friendly, with no qualms about recognizing me and saying hello, or calling me “honey,” or amicably jibing me about my unkempt hair. And there was the fact that a full breakfast for two (with sides, coffee, tea, etc.) would run around $6-$7.

Having been alternately away or busy most of the summer, I was surprised one day, while impatiently walking up the street for the elusive B63 bus, to find that the place had almost doubled in size and was completely remodeled.

Actually I was only a little bit surprised. But I was taken aback enough to venture back there about a week later with my friend Jill. Gentrification had bore its fruits: not-as-friendly waitresses, an eerie but pleasant feeling of sanitation all about me (the ultimate irony is that this is the name of a sandwich on their menu), really good, perfectly cooked home fries, and almost double the check.

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