An Ode to Sunflower Cafe
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
There is a very official way that a New York City restaurant closes: not with a bang but with a whimper.
Within the past week, another Kosher Upper West Side establishment fell prey to the raising rent costs and the difficulty of staying open in the year of COVID-19. Sunflower cafe was a quintessential dating spot; cheaper than Noi Due or My Most Favorite but still nicer than Saba's Pizza. It had a variety of menu items that were all...I mean they were there? It was fine? This was no one's absolute favorite restaurant and anything that isn't anyone's absolute favorite can be expected on a variety of dates. In order to honor the memory of Sunflower during this week of Shiva, I am going to share my most epic Sunflower dating story.
In May of 2019 I had arranged to meet with a guy (we'll call him Tall Frodo....since he mentioned Lord of the Rings four. different. times.) at Sunflower cafe after I was done at work. I was riding the 1 train (the 1 train, come for the delays, stay for the lady who may or may not be dead across from you) when I spotted a boy across from me. I hadn't bothered to find out what Tall Frodo looked like but train boy was cute, dressed like a guy I would date and headed in the same direction on the same train as me. Could it be?
We reached the 96th street station, one of the top 5 easiest to commit suicide at stations in Manhattan, due to the skinny platforms. He got off. I got off. He made a left. I made a left. He made a right. I made a right. He stopped in front of Sunflower Cafe. I stopped 10 feet behind. He pulled out his phone. I pulled out my phone. At that exact second, I received a text from Tall Frodo asking if I had arrived yet.
Subway boy WAS Tall Frodo!
I decided to play it coy. I texted back "Behind you."
He responded: "What? I'm just getting here."
I turned around. Coming up the street behind me was Tall Frodo.
Subway boy, oblivious to my very existence, put his phone back in his pocket and crossed Amsterdam, taking my hopes and dreams with him. Tall Frodo was not subway boy. If I was dating Tall Frodo, then subway boy was Legolas. And we all know who plays Legolas.
Meanwhile, Tall Frodo and I sat down and started to get to know each other. Sunflower Cafe had a habit for hiring very kind and enthusiastic waitresses. Our waitress, noticing that we were on a date, decided to get us our food quickly and then leave us alone so we could have private time to really be with each other.
Waitresses out there, you might think this is nice.
This is never, ever nice.
Tall Frodo and I had about one thing in common-we both had to take the subway back uptown. We continued to root around to find a common ground but this was not going to happen. Meanwhile, I said silent Tehillim for the waitress to bring our check. "Please!" I begged Hashem while Tall Frodo spoke, oblivious. "Please, Hashem, Master of the Universe! You have made this entire world and every molecule in it. Can You please take a second and make this girl bring over the check??"
Hashem heard my cries, and, like the live baby doll I saw in a commercial once and then davened for for over a month, decided that it would be better for me if He said no.
It was time to take matters into my own hands.
"I need to go to the bathroom," I explained to Tall Frodo. I got up and began to make my way to the bathroom. As Tall Frodo began to check his phone I used my 007 spy skills to jump over to where the waitresses were standing. Spotting my waitress, I begged, like no one has ever begged before.
"Please," I implored. "Please, you have got to get us our check. I can't do another moment of this!"
The waitress jumped back, unaccustomed to customers begging her for things on their knees. "Um, sure." She said. Those two syllables were some of the greatest syllables I have ever heard.
After Tall Frodo and I had played the bentching game (I will be blogging about the bentching game some other time...) he asked if he could walk me to the subway. I realized with my innate knowledge about the one thing we had in common that he would most likely be taking the same train as I, stretching out our already oversized date to be even longer. I had to think fast. "Oh gosh," I said, lying through my teeth, "I realized I need to pick something up downtown so I'm actually going the other way."
And that dear friends, is how I proceeded to take the train the wrong way for one station, get off, switch, and go right back uptown.
Rest in peace in restaurant heaven Sunflower Cafe. I will miss the good times, and the times I got on my knees and begged a waitress for salvation.
Subway boy, if you're still out there, I'm still single .