When we went into IHOP and asked to speak with the manager for an interview, we saw exactly what we expected; there was a cold artificiality to the restaurant and it was clear that there was nothing separating this institution from the thousands of others across the nation.  On the outside and inside, it felt like a cold sore on the face of Carmine Street.

However, once we met with the manager, we saw that the restaurant was not the imposing commerWP_20121229_003-640x360cial blemish on the street that it appeared to be.  A kind young woman, the manager explained that IHOP was not in an ideal location.  After having lived in the area for many years, she found that it was not as safe as one might imagine, citing a recent fight between celebrities at a nightclub nearby.

Still, we were interested in knowing about the community’s reaction to the restaurant.  She was quick to say that the IHOP did not fit into the culture of Carmine Street at all; the restaurant quite obviously stuck out among the mom and pop stores that line the streets of the West Village.  When the restaurant first moved into the space, they were met with a flurry of mail angrily protesting about how the pancake house was ruining the proud culture of the area.  It seems like the backlash has somewhat paid off, since the restaurant is going to go out of business in the near future.
What is interesting in this situation is that is shows how resilient some neighborhoods when faced with adversity. Although we often look at commercial brands as unstoppable giants that swallow up hapless businesses, a community can be just as strong and fight back.  In a place like the West Village, there is a pervading sense of pride in the cultures and lifestyles that thrive.  Anything that can threaten this pride, like a chain restaurant, is often met with unyielding adamancy.  As the community on Carmine Street looks to the future, there is comfort in knowing that the block has the power to preserve its history and take the new generation into the past, at least for a little while.

Leave a Reply