Off-Topic Warning: Boston color follows.
There's no Mike's Restaurant at the Haymarket and has not been for several years. Dunkin' Donuts squatted on it and obliterated it.
There's that other Mike's in the North End. You used to go through the urine-redolent parking lot under I-93, past the asphalt that used to be a house where Sophie Tucker lived. Out the other side and down Hanover is, in my opinion, the best ricotta pie in New England.
Mike's on the Haymarket side was a blue-collar, diner-style joint. It was humble-folks breakfast food early -- no brunch, flutes of fresh-squeeze OJ or shitake souffles. Eggs, French toast, little-finger shaped sausages, and lot of home fries. Oh, and go to the cooler to grab your juice in a paper box.
Later in the day, it became a sub and pizza place. Into the night, drunks came to add some protein to their queasy stomaches.
In the morning, Anna was queen. Chef's varied and sometimes included her daughter. You could peak through the open window to the kitchen to see who was cooking and know if you were likely to get your food the way you wanted. Home fry results vary wildly by short-order cook.
So, if you showed at the Haymarket at 6 or 7 a.m., you could plan on Mike's for breakfast -- cheap, fast and chatty. We learned of Anna's flooding issues and her daughters troubles. She watched our three boys grow and knew what they wanted for breakfast. Anna was squat, happy, red-headed, alert and sweet -- an excellent combination.
Tourists were always delighted to get steered there. Invariably some early riser couple from Ohio was walking around wondering where you could get a daybreak breakfast next to Faneuil Hall. Sure, they didn't want a hotel-priced meal, but they also wanted food they might have gotten at a diner at home.
Haymarket stall people came for takeout. Those with early morning business -- cops, construction workers and EMTs -- would show.
Mike's was it, the only one around there. A lot of folk were happy to discover it, even if momentarily confused. It had those Masonite tables with junior-high type plastic chairs and benches. You'd order off the menus on the wall with their white-plastic characters. You'd pay. Anna would give you your coffee and bring the food around to your table.
Times change. Greed gets another victory. Even though she was related to the owners, Anna was not protected. They first took over from their parents and raised the prices. Then DD hunted them down and lured them with big bucks. Anna's somewhere else. Mike's is just gone.
Now it's another Dunkin' Donuts, yet another Dunkin' Donuts. Tourists at the neighboring Bostonian Hotel can get the identical pastry there they expect. There's nothing at all remarkable about it. They won't be headed back to San Diego talking about the quaint Dunkin' Donuts in Boston. Like the famous people's houses paved for parking, Mike's is a memory and one that doesn't even get a plaque.
How just and amusing it would be if every DD and every Starbucks plying their cultural imperialism had to record their effects. On the exterior wall, they'd have to put a sign about what was their before, who came to it, and what it meant to the community.
Tags: massmarrier, Boston, Haymarket, Mike's Restaurant, Dunkin' Donuts