Archive for the ‘New York City retro, vintage’ Category

As I sit here in Retro Roadmap headquarters hovering over my cup of tea for warmth, I’m remembering the hot beverages and cozy atmosphere of Caffe Reggio in New York City. We visited Greenwich Village’s oldest coffee house a few weeks ago thanks to the recommendation of our NYC go-to-guy for all that’s cool in the city, RetromanNYC , and I’m glad we did!

Caffe Reggio Neon Sign

Caffe Reggio is famous for introducing cappuccino to the United States, and proudly displays their original cappuccino machine in their dimly lit yet wonderfully inviting interior. Retro Roadhusband was more than happy to partake in one of their famous cappuccinos (gave it the thumbs up) and I ordered a hot tea for me. I was delighted when my tea arrived, not in a bag, but in a pot, with strainer and all, to catch the loose tea leaves.

Caffe Reggio Tea Service

When RetromanNYC suggested Caffe Reggio to us he let us know that it was his mother’s favorite hang between classes (or sometimes instead of classes!) when she attended NYU. I can see the allure of the place for folks from any era, with the eclectic artwork, surprisingly friendly service and a history of notable customers, beatniks and all. While the cafe is currently non-smoking, I can just imagine a college age gal drinking cappuccino, smoking Gitanes and feeling very continental.

Caffe Reggio Coffee Alcove Waiting at our marble bistro table for our beverages to arrive it was fun to absorb all of the details of the small space, and watch the steady stream of customers coming in from the cold. I was enchanted by the antique lighting and stained glass, tin roof and antiques, all giving off the vibe that they had been there forever. You can’t buy patina like this.

Caffe Reggio Tin Ceiling

If you don’t mind being seen, there are seats at the window, and for warmer weather there is cafe seating outside.

Caffe Reggio Cafe Society
Caffe Reggio also serves soups, sandwiches, pastries, desserts and more- had we not had plans for dinner that evening we would’ve grabbed a bite for sure. Just writing about it makes me want to go back there right now, and join in the cafe society!

Caffe Reggio
119 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012-1202
(212) 475-9557

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I thought one post might be the easiest way to get the info out about 3 drive in movie theaters in MD, NY and PA since the drive in season is so short. And who can resist a some vintage intermission film enticing us to head to the snack bar? Not me!

Bengies Drive In Movies Baltimore MD

Bengie's Drive In Baltimore MD

Open since 1956 Bengies has one of the more well kept marquees of the drive ins I’ve seen, and to see the amount of heavily worded signage lining the entrance to the theatre (and their website) you can see that the owners are all about the signs. I did not think that the drive in would be totally open for business when I visited it on a sunny Saturday but I had hoped someone might be in the snackbar and willing to sell me one of the tee shirts that I had seen on their website. Alas the signs indicated in no uncertain terms that I should not even think of trying this.

Signs Signs Everywhere Signs Bengies Drive In

However I was TOTALLY unprepared for the lights and alarm sirens that went off as I turned the Retro Roadmap mobile around in the driveway on my way out. It scared the whoozits out of me for sure, and even now thinking about it I get jumpy. Hopefully when we return for a movie I’ll have better news to report and my blood pressure will return to normal :-).

Bengies Drive In Movie Theatre
3417 Eastern Blvd
Middle River, Maryland 21220
(410) 391-1956

Haar’s Drive In Movie Theatre Dillsburg PA

We could only drive past this drive in theatre on the way to someplace else, but its close proximity to Wolfe’s Diner makes it a perfect place for a Retro Roadmap type date. Since the diner was not open the day we were in Dillsburg, Retro Roadhusband and I will head out there for sure for a better report.

Haar's Drive-In Theatre

Open since 1953 Haars is a 1 screen theatre with the added interesting bonus of Friday night auctions as well. They have an on site snack bar with “fresh cut french fries, hot dogs, chicken tenders & nuggets, hamburgers, popcorn, soft serve ice cream” and more. And since we all know that sneaking in food is a no-no, do your part to support this drive in and buy your treats at the snack bar.

Haar’s Drive In
185 Logan Road
Dillsburg, PA 17019-9501
(717) 432-3011

The Glen Drive In Glens Falls NY

We had absolutely no idea that there was a drive in movie theatre just minutes away from our vacation destination of Lake George NY, but knew we had to pull into the Glen Drive In which has been serving the drive in community since 1958 with a double screen option.
The Glen Drive In Theatre

Wish I was awake enough to see the double feature, but I will say that going to the drive in on our vacation was one of the great retro roadmap highlights!

And my fave reason for seeing movies at the drive in? The wonderfully outdated and kitschy intermission reels!

The Glen Drive In
Lake George Rd.
Glens Falls, NY 12804
(518) 792-0023

I hope to some day have every single Drive In in existence featured on the Retro Roadmap, until then Drive-Ins.com is a great resource to look up the drive in movie theatres near you. Now GO!

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I would be remiss in my sharing of vintage places to visit if I did not hep my Retro Roadmap readers to Fanelli Cafe in New York City. Thanks to RetromanNYC‘s handy tip we were able to dodge into this corner cafe and imbibe a casual drink while enjoying the ambiance that dates back to 1847, long before the neighborhood became known as SoHo.

Fanelli's Cafe NYC

We weren’t sure how the bar vs table situation worked when we first entered the corner door, but were immediately waved to “site anywhere you like” by the friendly waitresses located towards the back, where the dark wood, mirrors and big clock made us felt like we had stepped back in time.

Fanelli's Cafe NYC

While seated at our table for two we were able to admire the great old back bar and the penny hex tile floors while drinking our lagers. Funny true story- while I was in the very small ladies “water closet” – literally closet sized – I could’ve sworn that my cell phone rang, so I scrambled for my phone in my purse- only to find it silent. Puzzled I grilled Retro Roadhusband thinking he may have called and hung up, which he rightly denied. A few moments later I heard “my phone” again, only to realize that it was the PAY PHONE located just outside the bathroom, that had that original phone ring that my modern cell only imitates!

Fanelli's Cafe Floor NYCThe ambiance and vibe of Fanelli’s was low key- which was a relief from some of the hoity-toity places in the immediate vicinity. Our waitress had no problem with us taking up the tablespace for a while as we waited for pals to arrive and it was nice to sit back and watch folks come in and wander towards the back dining room. Quick word about the food- hmmm. how about, stick with the drinks! Not horrible, but I’d want to try out someplace else to eat next time.

We didn’t realize how much time had passed when we were in Fanelli’s, but I loved how their etched glass door sparkled with the outdoor light as we left that evening.

Fanelli's Cafe NYC

My lil point and shoot shot came out too blurry for me to post, but click here to see a really beautiful shot of the outside of Fanelli’s from New York Daily Photo – they’ve got a bit of the history too! So nice to have a vintage ball in the corner pocket especially in this neck of the city.

Fanelli Cafe
94 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 226-9412

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Wow, the good news about NYC Retro Roadmap fun comes just in time to salve the stinging blow that The Empire Diner is closing in the middle of May!

Thanks to Glenn Wells of the Roadside Fans group for spreading the (sad) news. I’m leaving today….

Empire Diner to close soon
Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010 6:08 PM CDT
“Speaking to Chelsea Now on April 6th, proprietor Renate Gonzalez confirmed “May 15th is our last day of operations. We have lost our lease.” The news, given to her by the landlord’s attorney, came as an unpleasant surprise. Gonzalez: “We had a meeting. We thought we renegotiated and agreed to another ten-year lease; we shook hands. The day before Christmas, we got a message from his attorney that he had signed a lease with somebody else; another restaurant.”

Read the entire article on the closing of the Empire Diner here.

I remember making a point of coming here when my sisters and mum and I all went to NYC way back in the lateighties, early 90’s, and being thrilled by being in such a cosmopolitan version of a diner. I remember getting the chicken fried steak, and trying to collect all the post cards. And now I realize that even that era is close to being vintage and retro!

I guess the times they are a changin’ but it sure will be sad to see this place go- so go there while you still can!

The Empire Diner
Empire Diner
210 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011-4784
(212) 243-2736

Get yourself to the Empire Diner before it closes- I’ve made it easy by putting it on the Retro Roadmap!

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Just got hipped to this vintage cruise ship exhibit in New York City by my pal Kiki and had to share:

DecoDence: Legendary Interiors and Illustrious Travelers Aboard the SS Normandie
The South Street Seaport Museum, New York February 2010 through January 2011

The S.S. Normandie was the epitome of Art Deco-era style and sophistication – the largest, fastest and most glamorous of the so-called “floating palaces” of the early and mid-20th century.Her innovative, award-winning hull design was rivaled only by her unprecedented interior luxuries.


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On the way from Mass to Penna over the holidays Retro Roadhusband and I were heading to an off Broadway show until traffic literally put a halt to those plans. We were already practically IN New York City, and couldn’t turn around if we tried, so we decided to make the best of it. After insane traffic, aggravating parking and the stress and disappointment of missing the show, this is where we ended up:

Waldorf - Astoria Hotel NYC

The Waldorf – Astoria Hotel, on Park Avenue in New York City. No, we couldn’t stay there, but check the place out and perhaps belly up to an elegant bar? Yep, few things turns my frown upside down better than a classic cocktail at a classic haunt.

This location of The Waldorf was built in 1931, when the original hotel had to make way for something called The Empire State Building. It is a grand place, with an art deco exterior and  old fashioned opulence


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Just a quick holiday reminder that because you’re such a loyal reader of Retro Roadmap, you get a great discount on tickets to an off Broadway musical! I think these would make a perfect gift- who could resist a night in the big city and a show! Memories are made from events like this, not out of some thing you buy in a big box store, ya know! Just a word to the wise the show closes on January 3, so take advantage of this opportunity today!

Discount for Retro Roadmap Readers -The Marvelous Wonderettes!

I have a great offer to share with my loyal Retro Roadmap Readers – discount tickets to the musical show  The Marvelous Wonderettes !


I can’t wait to head up to New York City to see this with Retro Roadhusband, as it looks like a lot of fun:


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Still saddened by the loss of Les Paul earlier today, I wanted to quickly remind the Retro Roadmap community about another 94 year old who is still performing music 6 nights a week in New York City. I’m talking about none other than pianist/songwriter Irving Fields who we had the pleasure of listening to and meeting with on my birthday last Friday.

As his website notes:

Trained in the prime years of Tin Pan Alley and immersed in the classic American popular music of the pre-World War II era, IRVING FIELDS is simply one of the last of a truly special generation who continues to perform to this day.

And indeed this is true! Every night but Mondays you can find him behind the piano at Nino’s Tuscany, as we did. We arrived early on a Friday (since the Retro Roadhusband actually had a gig of his own later that evening) to find Irving getting the star treatment with a photoshoot for an article for NYCgo Magazine which you can read here.

Irving Fields is ready for his closeup

(Side note: as you have probably noticed if you’ve read some of the posts here on Retro Roadmap, I don’t tend to take photos with people in them, and this stems from the fact that I personally don’t like to be in front of the camera. However some of the photos of Irving from our visit have me in them, so it’s a rare appearance I make here on my own website!)

Since it was so early we were lucky enough to have him practically to ourselves, so we sat at the bar, ordered a classic cocktail and became enraptured with his take on the American Songbook Standards that I love so much.


Nino's Tuscany NYC

During the first break he came over to greet us, and my husband was kind enough to drop the hint that it was my birthday. Well Irving could not have been more delightful! He perked right up and said, ” I’m going to write a song for you on your birthday!” While I was charmed by the offer, I told him that was not necessary, but if he knew any Cole Porter I’d be happy just to hear that.

He returned to his piano, took out his fountain pen and began to jot some notes down. We then got chatting with the photographer from the shoot (Malcolm Brown) and I was delighted to hear some of my very favorite Porter tunes coming from Irving. I raised my glass to him in thanks and he gave me a winning smile.
Soon after he came over, paper in hand and SANG THE SONG HE WROTE FOR ME, TO ME!!! I was so touched.

A Song Is Born!

He then gave me the lyrics to keep, and walking home I felt like Zuzu in It’s a Wonderful Life, protecting my precious gift with my life.

Mod Betty and her Birthday Song

I was ready to spend the rest of the evening there, but we had to head downtown to meet friends at the gig. We promised Irving we’d be back soon and bring friends- won’t you come along with us the next time we visit?

Our Evening With Irving

Irving Fields at Nino’s Tuscany
117 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019-1557
(212) 757-8630

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From our New York bureau, ace reporter Suzanne Sullivan McGillicuddy has sent us a few of her NY faves. Thanks Suzanne!

This is my favorite dive bar in New York – located in Hell’s Kitchen.  It opened in 1933 – not long after Prohibition had ended.  Don’t let the “grill” in the title fool you…there’s no menu or grill, but they do always offer free hotdogs and cheap beer.

Although some marketers are now trying to call the neighborhood “Clinton” – it will always be Hell’s Kitchen to me.  Picture the Sharks and the Jets dancing between the buildings – parts of the neighborhood haven’t changed at all despite the “Disneyfication” of Times Square which is close by.

If you’re coming to NYC to check out a Broadway show, venture over to 9th Avenue and look for the giant pig statue outside Rudy’s door – he’s currently sporting a mask to protect himself from the Swine Flu.

Try to get a seat at one of the red vinyl booths that have more duct-tape on them than vinyl these days.  Otherwise belly up to the bar for a beer or whiskey.  You’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for a glass of wine or a Cosmo – they are not to be found here.  As with any good dive bar, you are taking your chances in the bathrooms, use at your own risk.  Until recently they had one of the best jukeboxes around, but it has been “upgraded” to one of those internet things – boooo!

Despite the new jukebox – this is definitelly worth a visit when in NYC.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill
627 9th Ave (Near 44th)
New York, NY 10036
(212) 974-9169

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From trailer trash to lit’ry class, we bring it all to you here at Retro Roadmap!

For a classy and classic place to knock back a cocktail in New York City, you just can’t beat  the Algonquin Hotel. Famous as the gathering place of the New Yorker literary set in the 20’s (Hello Dorothy Parker, my fave!) The ‘Gonk’ still has that air of elegance as it did back in their day.


There’s more history here than you can shake a book at: Interesting fact for example is that the round table gang  never drank here because of Prohibition but rather dined here for hours on end, seeing who could out wit who. Also I’ll warn you that while the original Round Table has been lost to a past renovation, dining at the oval table under the portrait would still be a momentous treat.


(A wonderful way to learn more about the area and this era is to take the walking tour of the area sponsored by The Dorothy Parker Society.)

You can lounge in the lobby (or lobby in the lounge  I guess)  or stay to dine if you prefer. There’s live jazz, a cat in residency, and fabulous people watching. The luxury of days gone by is in every tile and fixture.

So have a tipple or two, and pretend you’re part of the smart set that put this place on the map. Raise your glass to them all and say, ala Dot Parker:

” I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most-
After three I’m under the table
After four I’m under my host.”

The Algonquin

59 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 840-6800


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