Prior to its 1980s renaissance, the Upper West Side was slightly ‘gritty’, if a middle-class settlement can ever be considered ‘gritty’. Things have changed but grocery stores with family names—Zabar’s and Citarella’s—and others like Pioneer and Fairway are still in place.
Fairway first got attention because it sold things like uncommon olive oils, distantly sourced cheeses, species of fish like Tile and Monk, and organically raised meat.
But, for Fairway, agony arrived after the family sold an eighty per cent stake in the company to a private equity firm, which soon afterwards cut workers’ pay and benefits and eliminated jobs to turn a profit for investors. That style had been set by US politician Mitt Romney, who did similar work as the head of Bain Capital and was, in fact, an accused corrupt venture capitalist.
Things got worse, and Fairway suffered more, but this year, management has reopened the second-floor restaurant, presenting much the same menu (and prices) while maintaining its overview of Broadway.
Among those offerings are its $10 breakfast special (home style fried potatoes, two pieces of toast, two eggs and four or five slices of sliced bacon) and its enormous $15 lunchtime hamburger, a price unobtainable anywhere else within walking distance. It’s a classic with two beef patties, two slices of cheese, a heap of French fried potatoes and a small salad—the equivalent of two hamburgers minus the second bun. You can add a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola (made with sugar, not corn syrup) for $2.