The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

RIP Cup & Saucer (but if you're in NYC you still have a few days to get there before it closes)

Cup and Saucer Luncheonette
Cup & Saucer.

"Indigestion or Heartbreak?" isn't a guessing game that I often play. My heart's quite intact and, surprisingly after all these years of forgetting that feeling full is a signal to stop eating, so is my digestive system. But something in my gut did feel a bit sloshy today, perhaps due to off-meat, perhaps due to sympathetically joining the sea of diner lovers' hearts that broke after yesterday's news that Cup & Saucer, an old-school diner that has been a fixture of Chinatown and the Lower East Side for decades, will be closing next Monday, July 17.

New York-based blogs quickly crowded the lamentation train, and for good reason. Cup & Saucer—its employees, décor, and food—radiates with greasy spoon charm and warmth that terribly few other places could measure up to. Newer places just can't embody the kind of history it has. Owners John Vasilopoulos and Nick Castanos have been running this sliver of a diner on the corner of Canal and Elridge streets since 1988. They didn't change the name nor the signs when they took it over—it's been Cup & Saucer since 1940.

Cup and Saucer Luncheonette
Cup & Saucer (& Coca-Cola).

This latest addition to New York's vanishing diner culture is brought to you by increasing rents. According to The Lo-Down, the restaurant's rent would have been increased to $15,000 per month including real estate taxes. The owners of Cup and Saucer must have seen this coming for years—their worries about a steep rent increase is mentioned in this 2013 article from The Lo-Down—but for people like me who too casually visited Cup & Saucer and too carelessly forgot that nothing in New York is permanent, suddenly hearing about its closure was an unexpected punch to the gut.

Cheeseburger from Cup & Saucer.

I don't know if I deserve to be so upset about Cup & Saucer's closing. I'm ashamed to say that I only ate there three times during my decade-plus of living in New York. My first visit was in 2013 with my friend Max when I reviewed their burger for Serious Eats and Max reviewed their Fish on a Bun. After that, I went back a grand total of two more times, but considering how often Max and I talked about the place, it feels like I went more. I moved out of New York in the summer of 2014, and I haven't been back to the restaurant since.

(I was actually in New York this past May for one day, a too-short stop on a packed trip to a handful of cities on the East Coast. At my request, my friends and I hung out in Chinatown for a few hours. And at my request, we spent a chunk of our time drinking bubble tea. We drank bubble tea when WE COULD'VE BEEN PAYING OUR LAST RESPECTS AT CUP & SAUCER, BASKING IN THE GLOW OF BREAKFAST PLATES DRAPED IN BACON AND MUGS OF ENDLESS COFFEE. I chose "gnawing on tapioca balls" over that. What have I done.)

Video from CONVICTS on YouTube.

For better words and photos about Cup & Saucer than I can provide, check out Max Rovo's feature of the restaurant on The Lo-Down, Karla Murray's post on James and Karla Murray Photography, and this interview with co-owner Nick Castanos on Convicts.

If you get the chance to visit Cup & Saucer before it closes in a few days, I hope you take it (and let me know how it is!). For the rest of us, here are some more photos I've taken, plus a scan of the menu to remember the diner by.

Cup & Saucer menu
Front of the menu with photos galore! Click here for hi-res version.
Cup & Saucer menu
Inside the menu, a crash course in Classic Diner Food 101. Click here for hi-res version.
Menuboard behind the counter.
Behind the counter. I love the extra menu items hanging under the menuboard. "FRENCH TOAST / JUST LIKE MOM'S"; "HOMEMADE SOUP / YANKEE BEAN OR CHICKEN NOODLE"
Behind the counter near the entrance.
Cute photo
A cute Cup & Saucer group photo hanging above the windows.
Looking down the restaurant's interior, lined with counter seating facing the kitchen or the windows looking out onto Eldridge Street.
Cup and Saucer counter
Other direction. There's a golden cup and saucer inlay on the floor, something I didn't notice until I saw a better photo of it here.
Cheeseburger Deluxe (deluxe = with lettuce, tomato, and fries).
Cheeseburger without the fixin's.
Fish on a bun
Fish on a Bun, aka a fried fish sandwich with a healthy dose of tartar sauce.
Fish on a bun
Fish IN a bun.
Doughnut case, running a bit dry by the afternoon.
Breakfast spread.
Egg, ham, and cheese
Egg, ham, and cheese sandwich innards.
Bacon, eggs, potatoes
Bacon, eggs, and potato breakfast special.
Coffee and milk.
Tuna melt
Tuna melt. It would've placed high on my tuna melt roundup had I tried it before I wrote the post.
Cup and Saucer, be still my heart
Cup & Saucer after hours.
Cup & Saucer

89 Canal St, New York, NY 10002, USA (map)

According to Google, these are the opening hours:

Fri: 6 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sat: 6 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sun: 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Mon: 6 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Thanks so much to Kim for telling me about Cup & Saucer's closing.


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