Daily, I fall in love with New York. On Tuesday, February 8th, I fell in love with Jeffrey’s Grocery Luncheonette and Oyster Bar located at 172 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014. It’s nestled in Greenwich Village–a neighborhood restaurant, a cozy atmosphere—and has the feel of a country café in Cotswold Hills, England.
At first, my eyes gazed at the antique clock on the wall. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. I stared at the 20th Century ceiling, the Art Deco style lights, and peered at the display of market items for sale: Bazzini’s Pistachio Nuts, Canterbury Naturals Jenna Marie’s Golden Carrot Cake, Stumpton Coffee Roasters, and Saint Louis Comptori du Sud cane sugar.
I had a choice of sitting either at the communal table, the bar, or at one of the smaller tables. I placed my belongings on a white marble table near the window, and walked up to the counter. My plan was to have a quick bite, then meet a few friends later at a housewarming party on Perry Street.
“Hello, may I help you,” asked a man with a glowing smile, dressed in a tweed cap and black-rimmed glasses.
“Yes, could I have a cup of coffee and that tasty cheese biscuit?”
“Sure, I’ll bring it to your table.”
“What a nice place,” I thought. “The music sounds good; what a cute space.” I saw a gentleman in casual, sleek wear, a head full of red hair, moving sprightly about the restaurant. Minutes later, I pulled out my book, Wear Sunscreen, by Mary Schmich. The gentleman wended my way. I asked, “Are you the manager?”
“Yes,” he said. “My name is Matt. Is it your first time at Jeffrey’s.”
“It is, and it has charisma. Could you tell me a little bit about Jeffrey’s Grocery?”
“We are a neighborhood place. More than 50% of our customers are regulars; we recognize a lot of faces.”
“What type of restaurant is Jeffrey’s,” I asked.
Matt replied, “Jeffrey’s is a bit of a country grocery store, with homemade delectables for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We have a wine bar, a raw bar, and our menu varies from shared dishes like Marinated Octopus, Salmon Rillette for $9.00, or entries like Braised Brisket for $15.00. And a favorite: Brooklyn Velvet Cocktail. We serve dinner from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, and open at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast.”
“Do you require reservations for dinner?”
“No, it’s on a first come basis, a relaxed atmosphere,” he said.
“Are you preparing anything special for Valentine’s Day,” I asked.
“No particular change,” Matt explained. “We try to make every night a party night. It’s a neighborhood place; many of our customers also visit Joseph Leonard across the street. Jeffrey’s is owned by Gabriel and Gina Stulman.”
“Well,” I said, “I just finished off my wondrous biscuit and Stumpton’s coffee. Jeffrey’s is a hospitable, happy place. I know my readers will stop by for their special Jeffrey’s neighborhood experience.”
“All are welcome, except for Mondays when we are closed,” he said.
“Sounds good,” I said.
As I stepped outside into the cold, I still had the feel of Jeffrey’s homey atmosphere. I walked a couple of paces and saw a place I knew: Liana Jane. I opened the door, and said, “Hi, I didn’t know you had a boutique downtown.”
“We do,” she said.
“Have I seen you at the Amsterdam Avenue location,” I asked.
“No, that’s my sister. My name is Limchi.”
“Oh, so nice to meet you, my name is Wanda. This area is simply charming. I just left Jeffrey’s.”
“Jeffrey’s,” she smiled. “I always send people there, because it’s so good. I love the lobster rolls—everything they serve is fresh. They really have good wine, too.
A young lady who was shopping overheard our conversation and joined in. “I just left there, it was great.”
“This is Paulette,” Limchi said.
“Hi, Paulette,” I said. “What do you like about Jeffrey’s?”
“I was starving; I popped in, and sat at the bar. I was so cold, I hadn’t eaten lunch. I had a small cup of soup, salad, and a delicious rosé wine. It’s a cozy place—I also have eaten at Joseph Leonard’s. It’s a bit more formal, but still has a casual vibe.”
Limchi nodded and mentioned, “They also have $1.00 coffees and cute little sandwiches…I love the smoked salmon.”
“The bathroom is nice too,” I said.
“I know,” Paulette interjected. “Their bathroom is really clean. My father was in the restaurant business, and always said, “If you want to know if the restaurant is clean, just check the bathroom.”
“Definitely,” said Limchi, “and it’s pretty.”
We all agreed that Jeffrey’s is the place to be. I left the neighborly feel of Waverly Place and Christopher Street, and reflected on Valentine’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate love, and daily I find reasons to love New York City.