Thursday, July 24, 2008

This aggression will not stand, man

I love greasy spoon diners. In Ann Arbor, it was the Fleetwood Diner, although Yanks simply don't know how to make hash browns. And I'm long-time devotee of the Waffle House - being able to retreat to the WH almost daily (sometimes more) helped me survive high school. The all-time sentimental favorite, however, is the hometown hero -The Majestic.

The appeal of the Majestic is pretty straight-forward. It's as close as Atlanta comes to a living embodiment of Nighthawks, and the glowing neon is a beacon for restless souls. A friend who recently moved to town drove past the Majestic for the first time and said to himself, "That is a place for people like me. I must go there." The neon facade defines Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The interior feels like it hasn't changed since my father would come in from Stone Mountain 50 years ago with his grandmother for a double-matinee at the Plaza Theater. They would cap off the trip to town with a meal at the Majestic. The sign proclaiming "FOOD THAT PLEASES" - SINCE 1929 is a promise - Atlanta changes, but we'll always be here. 24 hours a day.

I have so many memories of this place. Countless breakfasts with friends, at all hours of the day. Chain smoking in the Majestic at 2 am, when one of the ceiling tiles fell square onto an unoccupied booth. (Like myself, the Majestic is now non-smoking.) Hours quietly studying in the booths. Before all the hipsters started working there, the Majestic easily had the most colorful staff in town. The customers used to be more colorful, too. I have been a loyal customer for a decade, and I'm not that old.

Lately, the place has begun to change. Some of the changes are for the better - the quality of the food has definitely increased, and I don't think the ceiling tiles will be dropping from the sky anytime soon. I'm pretty glad it's no longer cash only - the convenience offsets the nostalgia in this case.

But I'm not really down with other changes. They are mostly small things. The food isn't cheap anymore - it'll cost at least $10 bucks to eat there. Yeah, food prices are up, I can deal with it, but it looses some cache. They got new waffle irons, that make smaller and thinner waffles, and kept the price the same. Fine, I don't order the waffles anymore. You have to pay at your booth. Whatever, not that big a deal. They got new menus. They look fine, but I liked that the old ones seemed like the they could be the same ones my dad held when he was 10. They started putting fruit on my plate for breakfast. WTF? They once tried to bring me the check on a little red plastic plate. Huh?

After the little red plate I wrote a note to the owner - "stop changing everything. It's the Majestic - it's supposed to be a dump." A server last night told me they photocopied it and hung it up in the back room. Then he told me the owner was planning to renovate, aiming to be like some of the other Greek diners around town. Goddammit. If I wanted to go to the Landmark, I'd drive downtown. And the City Cafe fucking sucks.

All this may come off as petty and silly. Maybe it is. But the Majestic is a special place, and I can't bear the thought of it changing any more than it has already. I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man. (And for the record, the designated hitter is an abomination. And I haven't been to the Waffle House much since they moved away from the ugly faux wood interior.)

I'm thinking of starting a petition. Or maybe I can convince the Silver Skillet to start staying open later.

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