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A New York Starbucks owes me a danish

by Richard Mason | November 28, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.
Richard Mason, columnist, El Dorado

But before the missing danish, let me tell you about our New York get-away. For months, Vertis and I had felt trapped in El Dorado, and we were desperate to get out of town. We love our house nestled in the trees, but we had about as much peace and quiet as we could stand, so our get-away was naturally New York City -- Manhattan to be exact.

We spent the night in Little Rock, and I told Vertis, "We're leaving the Hotel at 4:30." Well, we were okay, until I handed in the car ticket, and we waited... and waited... and waited.

Finally, I got behind the counter, and tried to recognize our key fob. Fifteen minutes later, I began to panic, but after around 20-plus minutes, I spotted the key fob. We made the plane, and after a quick flight to DFW, we boarded our plane to New York City on time.

However, 20 minutes later, the pilot gave us a 20 minute delay, which turned into three hours. But more trouble was waiting in La Guardia, where almost the entire airport is under construction. Think long walks and lots of confusion.

Well, we walked and walked trying to find baggage claim, where we had a car to pick us up, but with all the construction, we were as lost as a goose. We finally stumbled into our car pickup area after an hour's walk.

The next day we planned to meet Jade Mason, our granddaughter, who is living in the city, for lunch at the Plaza Hotel Food Court, which, according to the Internet, was open. It wasn't. We ended up having lunch at Tao, a restaurant I call The Big Buddha. It has a Buddha statue that covers almost the entire back wall. That makes a good "wow" first impression. The food is Chinese, and we had Peking Duck for lunch, and having it with our granddaughter was a nice way to start the trip.

The overall restaurant situation in New York is mixed at best, with a significant number of featured restaurants still closed. D. B. Bistro, one of our favorites, hasn't reopened. However, most of the restaurants are planning to reopen after being closed for months.

On Sunday we got ready to attend church, which was going to be Cavalry Baptist Church on 57th street, but when we checked the Internet, it hadn't reopened. It was an Internet Zoom service only. So instead of going to church we ate at Trattoria Del Arte, which is right up the street from the church and across from Carnegie Hall. The meal and service was excellent, and we managed to get our favorite table, which is straight in and against the back wall. The restaurant had been closed for 17 months and reopened October 13. The head of the wait-staff was from Ecuador, where he had spent seven months waiting for the restaurant to reopen.

On Saturday afternoon we saw the musical "Moulin Rouge." The stage setting and acoustics were unbelievable... and the girls weren't bad either.

The best of the best restaurant was with our granddaughter, Jade again. This time it was on Sunday night at the Greek restaurant, Lamani, which is in the Rockefeller Center Complex, and it features fresh seafood. It's the most beautiful restaurant we've ever been to, and it is our favorite.

On our last night, we dined at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, another gorgeous restaurant with "you can't beat 'em steaks.'"

Of course, it wouldn't be our regular New York trip if we didn't see the huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza, and the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. We've seen the Christmas Show several times, and it's always a little different, except for the living Nativity scene at the end, which never changes.

Wow! We just returned from Radio City Music Hall and were overwhelmed! The entire main preforming hall had been turned into one heck of a show. Of course, the Rockettes were perfection, but the overall theater walls and ceiling became part of a gorgeous performance. It was a huge difference, because built-in electronic active displays in the ceiling, walls and even the main stage moved the performance from just being good to spectacular.

Of course, when the orchestra pit rose out of the sub-floor with the full orchestra playing, and then moved across the

stage, that was a drop-your-jaw effect. But more changes were made in the Nativity. The show-ending nativity was not just a one setting, but interlocking sequences with a choir singing, camels, sheep and a donkey, along with multi-kings with large retinue filling the stage.

We've seen the Christmas show before, but the 2021 production was by far the absolute best.

Well, we missed the lighting of the giant Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza. It will happen a few day after we are gone, but we did see the largest Christmas tree I have ever seen surrounded by more scaffolding than you would believe to get it ready.

The tree overlooks an ice skating rink, which sure helps the Christmas spirit. Of course, you don't have to go the New York to ice skate. We have our own ice rink here in El Dorado at MAD. (I couldn't resist that plug.)

New York is not out of the virus woods yet, but they are doing everything they can to

stamp it out. You must be vaccinated to enter restaurants, and Broadway plays that are open also

require vaccine proof and a mandatory mask while in the theater.

As more Broadway plays reopen, it will help the restaurants and hotels because it brings people to the city. It's obvious that the city has placed a priority on getting Broadway and Times Square back to normal.

Currently, Manhattan hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues aren't totally back, and without a doubt a lot of restaurants and stores won't ever reopen. If I had to guess, I would say New York will take until next summer to be at a pre-COVID level.

However, the bike-scooter-skateboard lane on most major streets was active with folks whizzing by on anything with wheels. I never worried about being hit by a car, but I was concerned a bike or skateboard rider might take me out. On 5th Avenue almost all the stores were open, and we walked and walked buying a few Christmas presents that weren't available at

home.

It's clear that the pandemic has severely impacted the city. In the heart of Manhattan, many blocks have multiple empty stores that are for lease. Even some hotels haven't reopened, and our hotel, the Michelangelo, had limited service. The hotel restaurant wasn't open, and I had to go down Broadway for four blocks to get Starbucks coffee and a danish.

Yes, my last day order included a danish, but they ran out, and when the barista pointed toward the register, I walked away. I wasn't about to stand in a long line again.

As a last word: Vertis and I enjoyed our New York getaway, but when we drove back down our driveway after six days in the Big Apple, that peace and quiet was mighty inviting.

Richard Mason is an author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected]

Print Headline: A New York Starbucks owes me a danish

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