When it answered to the British-styled name Greenfield Chemist, you might have conceivably (if not privately) washed down your pills with a soda at the lunch counter. The old signage, on the wall that overlooks the Cortelyou Rd. station for the Q train, hasn't faded all that much over the years; the second, closeup, photo was taken in much brighter sunlight. Mr. Greenfield, I was told by a successor owner, retired in 1978, but it's unclear how soon afterward that the luncheonette was 86'ed.
Greenfield Pharmacy Surviving signage for a luncheonette, 1526 Cortelyou Rd. (at East 16th St.), Ditmas Park, Brooklyn 866-299-6373 www.GreenfieldPharmacy.com
This "coffee shop" hadn't seen the light of day for many years until Ambrosia's previous, superfluous sign, which had been pressed flat against the facade, was removed. A search for traces of the older business yielded a page of classifieds from the 1940s. Schrafft's ran five ads on that page, for bakers, for waitresses, and for women and girls to do "candy packing." A single, much smaller ad sought a woman for "delicatessen kitchen work" at the address pictured here, but it didn't list a business name, only a telephone number. The trail dead-ended at INgersoll-2.
Coffee shop Surviving signage, 3306 Church Ave. (New York Ave.-East 34th St.), East Flatbush, Brooklyn Lately the location of Ambrosia Health Foods
Perhaps the original P.J. and family lived upstairs and kept their own corner shop to pay the bills. The house has lots of charm; I particularly love the hipped roof, the multiple eaves, and the recessed, angled windows on the second story.
My impression of the shop itself — unconfirmed on the briefest of pit stops during a morning jaunt through the neighborhood of Maspeth, Queens — is that ownership has changed over the years, probably more than once. Newspapers, cigarettes, candy, and soda are still on offer, but lottery tickets may now be the principal line of business. Fresh milk, juice, eggs, and bread are more readily available at newer, larger, more polished markets nearby.
P.J.'s Newspaper 57-34 61st St. (at 57th Dr.), Maspeth, Queens
Special: a Cuban sandwich with German ham and Swiss cheese on Italian bread, accompanied by French fries, promoted on a Dutch-branded menu board, served at an Irish bar that proudly flies Old Glory. Didn't try it — I was on my way to meet some friends for Japanese.
McHale's Bar & Grill 251 West 51st St. (Seventh-Eighth Aves.), Manhattan 212-957-5138 www.McHalesPub.com
Shown primarily for the dense juxtaposition of varied signage: Chinese, Roman, and Cyrillic scripts on the awning of the herbal shop, U.S. and Italian flags out front of the pizzeria. (Click for a closer look.) Note, too, three rides, each sweeter than the next: one bicycle, one motor scooter, one coin-op giraffe.
Chinese Herbal Therapy Center 1323 Ave. U (East 13th-East 14th Sts.), Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn 718-376-1988 J&M Pizza II 1323 Ave. U (at East 14th Sts.), Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn 718-645-6010
A rebus is a compact means of delivering a message in pictorial form. Some rebuses must be puzzled out, but to attract passers-by, a telegraphic image such as "two slices" would seem to be more effective. Like the other examples cited below, this signboard doesn't dispense with text altogether. The green lettering helps to visually separate the oversized "2" and "5"; the recessive type in the lower right corner ensures that the tax man gets his due.
At one time, no doubt, this was an Italian-American pizzeria. When I first passed this way some years ago, it was doing business as Roma Pizza Restaurant (a name still lettered on the windows), but a hand-drawn list of specials signaled a change in ownership. Many of these newer items have been codified on the menu, though in a section of their own, separated from the more traditional fare just as the middle flag out front is set apart from its neighbors. Nowadays, you can order chaulafan, and you can order pizza, but you can't get an Ecuadorian-fried-rice pizza. Perhaps that's just as well — but the possibility of a churrasco, fritada, or carne asada pie might be worth asking about.
La Sorrentina Pizza & Restaurant 245 Adams St. (Nichols-East Kinney Sts.), Newark, New Jersey 973-465-9555 Closed Tuesday