Thursday, September 17, 2015

A visit to Cup & Saucer in New York City's Lower East Side

CUP & SAUCER on Canal Street at Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side was founded as a Jewish luncheonette complete with a lunch counter and stools as well as a small seating area.

The store front on Canal Street. Cup & Saucer has been co-owned by John Vasilopoulos and Nick Castanos since 1988. We recently spoke with John... "We took over this luncheonette from the second owner in 1988, but we haven’t really changed a thing about it. We have the same interior and the same original signage from the Coca-Cola Company. As long as the bolts holding our sign in place hang on, we plan to keep it. Cup & Saucer was founded in 1940 when this area was the center of the Jewish-owned jewelry trade. Now most of the Jewish jewelry places have closed and moved to the midtown Diamond District and Chinese-owned stores have moved into the neighborhood. So we lost most of our old-time customer base and corporate accounts."

John Vasilopoulos behind the counter. The Narrow space has stool seating on the counter side and window seating on the other with views of the always busy seat corner. This photo was taken during a quiet moment the day before school started. We returned a couple days later for breakfast and the place was packed with a line out the door. 

Inlaid on the terrazzo floor is a gold cup and saucer. John continued... "Years back, we had our regular clientele who didn’t even have to place an order, we would just see them walk in and start cooking their food and pouring their coffee for them. Our menu, however, has stayed the same with eggs in the morning and hamburgers and simple sandwiches for lunch. We close by 6 pm so complicated dinner offerings are not an issue."

John behind the front counter. Cup & Saucer keeps their prices very reasonable with breakfast specials served from 6:30 am to 11 am starting at $5.00 for two eggs any style, potatoes & toast with coffee, tea or juice! 
"We try to keep our prices reasonable but it has been difficult because the price of raw materials just keeps on going up and up. Both my partner and I ran a food business uptown before we lost our lease and took this over so we know what it takes to survive."

The 1940's over-hanging privilege sign. John told us recently that the building they are located was just sold to new owners and he expects the rent to double. ."..we don’t own the building and our lease is expiring in a couple of years so unfortunately our future is uncertain."
Interview and photo (© 2015) of Cup & Saucer appear in our upcoming book STORE FRONT II: A History Preserved  which will be released in November, 2015 

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