There’s a tiny little shop on the north side of St. Mark’s between 2nd and 3rd Avenues that has held a special place in my heart for over two years now, and it is called BAMN! Automat. For anyone who doesn’t know, the premise is that you put quarters (or Sacagawea gold dollars, if you’re really cool) into a coin slot. Then you open a little glass door and retrieve your double cheeseburger, mac and cheese kroket (the BEST), or whatever else catches your eye.
When I profess my love for the Automat, I’m usually met with a mix of reactions. a) I love that place too! (although probably not as much as me) b) Hmm yeah, I’ve been there or I haven’t, interesting c) So the food just sits there until someone takes it? Ew, that sounds like bad news.
So, I’d like to list the reasons why everyone, especially those who fall into the C category, should embrace BAMN!
- Instant gratification. Their slogan is “Satisfaction is automatic” and it is really true. Put coins in, open door, get food, eat food. You don’t even have to talk to anybody! This is great, especially when it is late and you are drunk.
- But if you do want to talk to someone, the staff is always incredibly friendly, including owners Nobu and Raymond, who I’ve often gushed to about how much I love their establishment and have been rewarded with free fries or ice cream from behind the counter.
- Fellow customers are also friendly because everyone is happy so instantly at the automat.
- You will never be eating old food. There are timers on each door that lets staff know when they need to throw food out. I’ve seen them do it.
- I have never gotten sick from the automat. Ever.
- BAMN! used to be open 24 hours, but now it closes at 3am on weekends. This is disappointing sometimes if you lose track of time, but if you get it right (you can always return to the bar), they sometimes start giving away free food right before 3am.
- It’s centrally located in the East Village, so no matter where you were out downtown, you can pretty much always walk to it.
- Menu items are between $2 and $3. Perfect for the recession. There is a coin machine there.
- I personally love the fried mac & cheese krokets and cheeseburgers the most, but for the health-conscious folks, there are vegetarian and non-fried options.
- And finally, tenth but most importantly, the food tastes really really good.
Any other questions? Just go.
I know I haven’t written in a while, and this is a bit of a personal post, but it’s a shoutout to someone very, very important to me.
My Nana turns 85 years old today. That’s 85 years she has lived in New York–longer than most of my friends, combined. 85 years below 14th Street– I’m still wishing I could find an apartment for even one year below 14th Street.
Something I think about as I wander or speedwalk around town is how certain places– restaurants, street corners, subway stops, convenience stores (?)– become loaded with memories. A flash of one moment on E. 20th., another on Franklin St, yet another on W 58th. I’ll concede that I’m a nostalgic person. Perhaps not everyone walks around with memories from the past waving to them at the other side of the crosswalk. Does Nana see eight decades worth of this? Would that be good or bad?
She loves asking where I go out at night. If I say “7th and C,” she’ll respond, “Oh, the southeast corner? That’s the store where my sister used to send me to take down her messages.” Because cell phones didn’t exist in the 1930s. Or telephones in Lower East Side tenements. If the answer was “9th and 2nd,” well, “That’s where Papa and I met at his friend’s bar.”
And to think of how much she’s seen the city and its neighborhoods change? We could obviously go on about that for hours. But I hope all of us who love this place like she does will witness changes that are just as wonderfully mind-boggling. She is my absolute favorite New Yorker, and I just wanted to take this place (even though she doesn’t know what a blog is) to say Happy Birthday, Nana!
One of the best things about New York (and there are too many to list, although maybe one day I will) is that there’s always something new to try. Always. And we’re lucky to have great publications and blogs that tell us all about all the things we should be doing. It’s easy to immediately say, “I must go here!” And easier to forget about it less than an hour later. Kind of like movie trailers. Especially the ones at the Angelika. How am I ever supposed to remember? We’re all busy people, with busy, crowded minds.
I recently started writing in a little notebook (with an ironically Parisian cover) all the restaurants, movies, shows, galleries, bars, et al that I saw, read or heard about in our great city . I thought, “There, now I won’t forget anymore.” But who was I kidding? I was the notetaker in college who scribbled (still do. not all girls have neat handwriting) and never turned a looseleaf page backwards until it was time to cram.
No, I needed to put my wildest New York ambitions somewhere I always look. The internet! I’ve started this blog in an effort to make my life New Yorkier. And the lives of any friends, roommates or dates I drag along with me. Your days of receiving ridiculous excel spreadsheets with New York Magazine’s “best of” lists organized by price and food genre are over. It’ll all go here. And I hope you enjoy.