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The Tom’s Diner I know and love is …the other one

Tom Winnifrith
Friday 24 April 2015

Tom’s Diner is trending on twitter as Britney has a new version of the Suzanne Vega classic out and I must admit to rather liking it. The original is about a diner in Manhattan where Miss Vega used to have breakfast before heading off to work as a receptionist. But for me Tom’s, is a diner called Tom's Restaurant which was a Saturday fixture where I lived in Brooklyn, in Prospect Heights.

It is an old family run gaffe, managed by a Greek American family since 1936, as much coffee as you want and all sorts of pancakes on a cold autumn morning. Those are my memories of Tom’s. It used to be a Saturday treat back in the mid-eighties when I lived there.

These days the brownstones in Prospect Heights change hands for $1.5-2 million and it is a neighbourhood where the old families, the Afro-Americans, the liberal old guard are moving out to be replaced by smart young couples from Wall Street.  Back in 1985-6 it was a bit different.

The folks I lived with had a dog. He was a harmless beast but he looked fierce. So when the godmother of my daughter, with whom I stayed, got a late night train back to Atlantic Avenue she could be met by her partner who would be walking with a big fierce looking dog. That way there was less chance of some bloke pulling a gun on her on the way home as had happened before. So one real appeal of Tom’s back then was that it was where the cops hung out.  That made it a totally safe spot in a neighbourhood that was still a bit on the edgy side.

I see on the internet that the Tom’s I know is still going. On my planned January trip to New Hampshire I shall be stopping off with my friends back in Brooklyn and naturally if it is Saturday morning I know where we will be going. Pancakes with bacon, maple syrup and strawberry butter please.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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