When the world seems upside down | Pamela’s Food Service Diary


STATEN ISLAND, NY – Just when restaurant writing work seemed to be returning to normal – talking about who’s open, who’s closed and how fantastic the menu is – the pace of the food has kicked in again. Politics.

But I assure you that for every horrible thing we read in the news, there is at least one wonderful thing to come out of it. This is Staten Island, after all, and somehow the generous sides of the people in our borough still prevail.

So with that I’m going to salute the bad – then the promise of something good to follow – starting with Egger Glacier.

As you may recall earlier in the week, some irate customers over the vaccine card checks blasted owner Danielle Raleigh. She cooperated with the amendable municipal mandate and, as you know, compliance was not well accepted by some Staten Islanders.

Egger’s ice cream sundae (Staten Island advance file photo)Third party shooting

The owner recently received a heartwarming letter from a customer. Addressed to “Dear Danielle Raleigh” it was written: “My husband and I would like to thank you for doing what it takes to check people’s immunization status. It’s a way to stop the virus and it makes us feel safe to eat there. Please know that Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor is a destination of choice for us. Have a nice day.”

Note some of the comments from food service operators and friends about their sense of things.

One said: “Covid has turned the world upside down and generally rational people are irrational. Hope we will see the real normal soon.

And another, “Crazy time. Everyone has gone mad. I’m at the end of my rope here.

And another: “I’m moving to France.

Then there’s Regina Cassidy from Castleton Corners to provide some sunshine in her corner of the world. She tells the story of her neighbor, Joy Alessi.

Cassidy says that during the pandemic, Joy made meals for others – even Cassidy.

Cassidy explains how food “connected us”.

She said, “Maybe someone gave it up, or had an excess of something.” Joy picked up fresh peaches several times over the summer, even fresh produce from the Goodhue Center or nearby Staten Island. She just gave us some fresh figs from someone’s tree in Staten Island! And she’s been volunteering all summer at a local community garden, which collects much-needed food for Project Hospitality.


Figs to share with neighbors (Staten Island Advance / Pamela Silvestri)

Additionally, Alessi spent days cleaning someone’s basement in Port Richmond, after it was flooded by Hurricane Ida.

As for the name “Joy,” said Cassidy, “She saw the meaning of the word so sweetly and simply, bringing joy to everyone.”

With that, I encourage you to pull some sort of good from the otherwise unhappy situations of these times – or of life.

Upside down

Pamela Silvestri, Ray Carr and the late Michael Heffernan (Staten Island Advance / Pamela Silvestri)

From my own kingdom, the family of the American Grill restaurant mourn the passing of Michael Heffernan, bartender at our restaurant, formerly of West Brighton. He became known for a red apple martini, an inspiration that came from what we might call a happy mistake.

At that time, the most popular drink was Cosmopolitan – vodka, cranberry, triple sec and lime juice with a lime garnish. And at this time of year, around 2003, the best seller was a green apple martini.

With a flurry of orders on the Cosmo on a Saturday night, cranberry juice was accidentally added to the apple. Rather than throw it away, Michael hung a slice of red apple on the side and declared it a cocktail. At Thanksgiving, we sold it by the gallon.

The result is that without rain there are no rainbows. I think Michael would appreciate that prospect.

Got a great food story to share? Send to [email protected].

Pamela Silvestri is Editor-in-Chief of Advance Food.

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