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Exit Stage Left…

I'm surprised and a bit saddened to hear that the Stage Delicatessen in New York is closing down. I haven't been in that city for a while but I never went into that place without it being crowded, generally with a line outside.

Often, there were two lines — one for customers seeking tables, one for homeless folks seeking handouts. A sandwich at the Stage is too large for most folks to finish in one sitting so what you usually do there is eat one half and take one half home…but what do you do if you're not going home for a while? Or if you're staying in a hotel room with no refrigerator? A lot of patrons chose to take the other half "to go" and offer it to someone outside who was looking sadly for money or a meal.

At some point, the staff at the Stage made it simpler. Last time I was there, I had a brisket sandwich on a Kaiser roll and barely made it through half. The server offered to wrap the balance for me to take along but I was heading off to a meeting and then to another meeting and then to dinner and then to the theater so I said no. "Okay if I give to the homeless?" he asked. I said, "Fine."

Outside the door as we left, there was a line of unfortunates and the server came out with my half-a-brisket-sandwich nicely wrapped in foil and then bagged. He offered it to a shabby-dressed man who was first in that line: "Brisket sandwich?"

The man said, "Haven't you got corned beef?"

I'll miss the Stage.