We’re a bit of a nutty family. I was born in 1990 but my older siblings ensured we had watched many movies from well before our times. For instance, The Odd Couple. What I love about the Odd Couple is how it depicts New York and some things have not changed! For instance, traditional diners. You will never find anything even remotely similar to a New York diner in London. It’s a really hot summer day in Manhattan, it is my second adult visit to the City and I have finally started finding my own feet around town. I am staying at the then Martha Washington and I decide to go window shopping to Saks.
I discover Burger Heaven – it is hidden on the side street but it looks cool and authentic, the name rings a bell and I walk in. As I do, I decide to sit at the bar. I think this was one of my first solo bar experiences. A very friendly lady, Frances begins to serve me. I order a burger and coffee (don’t judge the combination). Off she goes telling me about Jack Lemon, Audrey Hepburn and who not who have dined over the years at Burger Heaven.
She is engaging. I have a good time and she develops a liking for me. She must be in her 50’s and me being the old soul that I am, listen to her talk about her life and really enjoy all that she has to say. She asks me when I am going back and I say the next day. She asks me if I will say goodbye to her before I leave. Of course, I will. So the next morning I go back for breakfast and she sees me there. We talk for ages and she begins telling me about what she worries about – losing this job, family issues and so much more. When I get up to say goodbye, she comes over to hug me and wishes me luck. I return after a year and ensure to go see Frances. What is really funny is a South American waiter recognizes me and tells me Frances is starting her shift shortly.
I realize the staff knows that her friend has returned to see her. When she sees me she is thrilled! We chat, catch up, the boss shows up and tells her off for talking too much but I calm him down and even he grows a warmth towards me. They say New York is impersonal. But to me, the connections I have made have meant something. When I am leaving Frances says, Saira you are special, you’ll meet a wonderful guy one day. Another year goes by and I visit Burger Heaven and they tell me she retired and left. Oh well, that was expected after all her years of service.
Three years later I am passing Burger Heaven on the Upper East Side close to The Lowell and I see a sign – it has closed as of February 28. My heart sinks a little. I am proud to say I have a slice of the memories Burger Heaven created for many!