Southern NYC Lunch Tour

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Day 15
Cafe Health Exchange
2 Maiden Lane
Nov. 13, 2006

Maybe it was the cops telling me where to walk while trying to make my way thru the horrendous construction on Maiden Lane between Nassau and Broadway. Maybe it was the afterglow of having just returned to the mothership (see Day 14). In retrospect, I don't feel like I gave them a fair chance.

Here's what happened:

I walked in the door. 12:20, seemed like there were more employees than customers. The layout was novel: in front, a cash register and a salad tossing station; an archway and a slight offset, kind of like walking into another room but not quite. On the left, under a "$5.00 Specials" sign, a counter behind which a knot of employees bustled. On the right, another counter with chafing dishes and prefab lunch tubs, but no employees. There was a line forming at this counter - the folks on the other side were ignoring it. The dank, heavy atmosphere of incompetence made me restless.

I examined the $5 specials sign more closely. Next to the burrito it said $5.50! Same for the taco! WTF?

"It says the burrito is $5.50, but it's on the $5.00 specials board." "yeah, it's $5.50." "Why is it on a sign that says $5.00 specials?" Her brow knotted slightly. "It's $5.50". This place was really starting to tick me off, and just to spite the mildly nasty lady behind the counter I ordered a genuine $5.00 special that actually was $5.00 - the bean quesedilla.

In the next 15 minutes, three different people asked me if I was being helped. Despite the fact that the place was nearly empty, my order seemed like a production, and when the 5 or 6 people behind the counter finally figured out that the bag that 5 or 6 people in the kitchen had handed them was my $5.00 lunch special I was able to get out of there vowing never to come back. No wonder it was empty at 12:45; no one has time for this.

Perhaps if the misleading sign hadn't aroused my ire or if I had been more open to the experience I would have opted for the prefab tub lunch on the other side, would have been out of there in a reasonable amount of time, and would have paid a normal price for a decent pile of food. If anyone reading this feels like it, please feel free to try something that looks good on the righthand side and post a comment to mitigate the possibly unfair sting of this post.

Also, in all fairness, the bean quesedilla was decent; it really wasn't bad for a $5 lunch.


  • Is every restaurant under the letter C starts with the word Café?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:33 PM  

  • Forget that. If it took that long for my lunch, I just would have left.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 PM  

  • Patience, Anonymous #1. It's an alphabetical list, after all... I'm sure all the C names will eventually clear "Café."

    Just goes to show how un-creative naming can doom you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:25 PM  

  • ROFL

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:21 AM  

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