Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Primeburger Coffee Shop: Have Lunch With Some Tomatoes

By Mitch Broder

Among the best scenes for meeting chicks in Manhattan are the lounges, the clubs, the cafés, and that old place where you eat in a high chair.

The chicks you meet there may live in Argentina, but I never promised a lasting relationship.

The place is The Primeburger, whose menu attraction is the Primeburger, but whose main attraction is its portrayal of 1965. It has barely changed since its renovation that year, which is why it still has the high chairs, which I personally see as airplane seats, which doesn’t make them any less humbling.

The seats are in three-sided nooks. The nooks have two seats in each side and an end table in each corner. They’re like little living rooms. When you sit, your waiter locks you in with a swiveling fake-walnut tray. When food is on it, you can’t get up. Neither can the chicks.

I recently had four Argentinian chicks in my living room (not including the women above). They were tourists, as many Primeburger patrons are. We were sitting there facing each other. They had to at least smile at me. Fortunately for them, I was more interested in 1965.

The Primeburger began as part of a chain called Hamburg Heaven. The store opened in ’42 and became The Primeburger in ’65. The current owners bought it in ’76 and decided that one renovation was enough. That has helped them survive, not that it’s hurt to be across from St. Patrick’s.

The walnut Formica walls are original. The blond Formica counters are original. The black perforated conical midcentury-modern light fixtures are original. The mechanical change-maker is original, the burger broilers are original, and at least one waiter is, too, though they all wear white coats with “The Primeburger” embroidered on them, so they will all look original.

Most of all, the seats are original — and rare, if not unique. People wait to sit in them, because the people who are already in them tend to stay there. “I take pictures all day long,” says the co-manager Michael Di Miceli. “We get people in here on their first day in New York, and they come back the whole week.”

So there might be time for a lasting relationship, though I’m not looking. I chatted a bit with my chicks and sent them packing to Argentina.

Of course, you may not even get chicks. Your may get four men in black suits, which is what replaced my chicks. But then, that could be just what you’re looking for.


  1. Not familiar with this place...will definitely check it out!

  2. The burgers might be good but have you noticed a 'chick' theme going on here? And how the chicks seem to capture your attention? Fascinating! This place is near St. Pat's? Surely will need to check it out.

  3. With me! I want to sit in one of those seats!!! Think they have kosher burgers or veggie burgers? The Author has kept this place to himself long enough.

  4. I love the idea of sitting in an adult high chair. I need all the help I can get with keeping food off of my lap. The food sounds great too.