Okay, I’d like to preface this observation with a declaration.
I love JG Melon’s. As a native of the Upper East Side, it was one of the most storied, atmospheric and beloved haunts dating back to my small years. My father lived around the corner from it in the mid-70’s, so I was treated to their signature burgers at a young age. It was — and, mercifully, remains — an institution, perched on the corner of East 74th and Third, replete with iconic neon sign. Given its location, it’s unsurprisingly hailed as a stronghold of uber-preppiedom. Were there any doubt of that status, it even makes a cameo in Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan.” Regardless, it’s an authentic original and a neighborhood treasure of the Upper East Side.
Here’s the thing, though: WE DON’T NEED A SECOND ONE…especially not in the heart of Greenwich Village.
Granted, the fabled corners of Bleecker and MacDougal — once the veritable epicenter of Greenwich Village’s bohemian heart, just steps from the Minetta Tavern, the former Gaslight, Cafe Wha?, 99 Records and more — aren’t what they used to be. The legendary coffee shops that used to anchor those four corners — ones frequented by hepcats like Lewelyn Davis, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Allen Ginsburg, Patti Smith and countless other luminaries — were excised in the last couple of decades. That strip of the Village has been largely gutted of its authenticity and turned into an ersatz beachfront arcade, peppered with shitty one-dollar pizza joints, froyo outlets and touristy bars. One might argue that there’s nothing there left to wring one's hands over.
This afternoon, however, I took my kids out on yet another Bataan Death March around Manhattan, and on our trek up from the lower reaches of the island, we found ourselves strolling up MacDougal. Upon doing so, I spotted none other than JG Melon’s signature green shade and logo gracing the storefront on the southwest corner of MacDougal and Bleecker, slated to open soon (and hiring).
Once again, I adore the original JG Melon. I do. But to take something that is arguably the QUINTESSENCE of the Upper East Side and plunk it smack-dab in the center of Greenwich Village?
That’s just not right.