Pre-kids, my wife, Alice, and I ate out a lot. We mostly went to dives. That was our hobby. Dives as low as Krisplee on East 82nd Street and Euclid Avenue, and Albino’s at West 44th Street and Lorain Avenue.
At home, Alice cooked a lot of tofu. That’s why we ate out a lot.
We don’t go out much now. I can’t stand the long waits, the so-s0 food, the noise. I’m my dad.
Alice published a restaurant guidebook, Alice’s Restaurants, in 1981. The book sold particularly well at the airport bookstore. Alice’s oddest recommendation was the cafeteria at Metro General Hospital. She liked the beef stroganoff and Viennese tort there. (Alice was a nursing student.)
I liked Draeger’s, an ice cream place at Van Aken. I wasn’t into balanced meals.
Here are a couple recommendations from the book:
(Still around) Balaton, Corky & Lenny’s, Flat Iron Cafe, Mad Greek, Mamma Santa’s, Hot Dog Inn.
(Dead) Zosia’s, Gerome’s, Art’s Seafood, It’s It Deli, Vegetaria, Radu’s, Aurora, Draeger’s, El Charro.
When we had our first child, our eating out petered out. Alice wrote a baby book, but never published it. I can’t remember what the book was about, other than babies. Oh, it was The Bye, Bye Book — how to prepare your kid psychologically if you left town for a day or two.
Our kids – now grown — became foodies. Maybe we left them home too much. A lot of 20-somethings became foodies. A baby-boom friend described his grown kids’ religion as Foodism.
Alice — the original Foodist — sold street food. She never made a dime, but she made a name for herself. In the mid-1980s, Alice was the first to sell sushi rolls in Cleveland. This was at the Coventry Street Fair. Few locals knew what sushi was. Alice made vegetable rolls. She grossed well, but her expenses were high. She paid a Korean-American friend, Mike, to help. Mike lent an air of authenticity — not that he knew anything about sushi.
Alice did tabouli at the East 115th Street Fair. Tabouli was a loser. Why? It wasn’t that good. And a Cadillac with musicians playing in the trunk – next to Alice’s booth — was a lot more entertaining.
Alice sold falafel at the Coventry fair. She called that operation Queen Alice’s Falafel. We ate a lot of falafel because she was always tweaking the recipe. She did falafels for a couple years.
Alice is talking tacos lately. Our son Teddy is talking pad Thai.
THE JEW OF HOME DEPOT
Carl Goldstein, a landlord friend of mine, wants to be a docent at Home Depot when he retires. He goes to Home Depot at least twice a day, six days a week. That’s more than 600 Home Depots visits per year. Carl owns and manages double houses on the East Side of Cleveland.
He said, “Home Depot saved my life. Before they came to town, I used to go out to Builders Square on Wilson Mills. That was the ruination of my life. After Builders Square, I would take the freeway to DIY on Chagrin, and then to Seitz-Agin [hardware] on Lee. And I still wouldn’t have everything I needed!”
Carl worked at a plumbing supply store for seven years; he sold hot water tanks, boilers, Flushmates and plumbers dope. Carl’s father was a plumber in Flint, Michigan. Carl has a collection of Corky toilet flappers and other odds and ends in his truck. He gave me a Niagara water-saving shower head. ($5.13 from Woodhill Supply. Too specialized for Home Depot.)
I bought more Niagaras. I have about fifty now. I switch shower heads when tenants move out. (Bad business to switch shower heads on current tenants.)
Carl wants Home Depot to hold a storewide scavenger hunt. The first contestant through the Home Depot check-out line with all the correct items wins. “I’m a shoo-in,” Carl said. “Second place would be Marc Apple.”
“He’s a Cleveland Heights contractor,” Carl said.
There are two Jews of Home Depot in Cleveland.
Read Max Apple’s The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories. (Max Apple is not related to Marc Apple.)
Next: The Jews of Home Depot (Atlanta): Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank.
I wrote about Alice, hot weather and money at today’s CoolCleveland website.