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La Bonbonniere – NYC’s West Village Lunch Counter for 75+ Years! Carpe Diem even if it means just going out for breakfast!

Posted on: December 20, 2016

  • Address: 28 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014
  • phone: (212) 741-9266
  • NOTE: Cash Only, open 7 days a week

While La Bonbonniere is one of the dwindling authentic vintage places in New York City’s West Village where you can get a bite to eat, this small bustling place is so much more than that to Mod Betty, so allow her to indulge. 

La Bonbonniere - NYC - New York - NY - Retro Roadmap

For those of you interested in just the facts, ma’am: Open since the early 1930s, this eatery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. The Bonbonniere moniker is a bit of a mystery. Meaning a little candy dish in French (you know, bon-bons…) legend has it that it was named by the original owner, a Frenchwoman, and the name stuck. Especially after it was emblazoned on the shop’s distinctive Coca-cola “Privilege Sign” as beautifully photographed by James and Karla Murray . It has been owned for almost 25 years by Marina Arrieta and Gus Maroulletis.

La Bonbonniere - NYC - New York - NY - Retro Roadmap

Mod Betty learned of this place in 1996 while the internet was just a baby, as it was featured on the cover of a CD she’d practically wear out (if that were possible) The Candy Butchers Live at La Bonbonniere. Mod B immediately became a Candy Butchers fan, which pretty much started her life down the path that would lead to Retro Roadhusband (but you’ll have to wait for the 1990s-inspired power-pop romantic comedy movie about our lives to learn more about that! ;-))

Candy Butchers Live at La Bonbonniere CD Cover Retro Roadmap

1996 Candy Butchers CD Cover – Mike Viola (L) Todd Foulsham (R)

Visiting New York City in 1997 she even tried to track down this mysterious luncheonette, looking for a listing in a local phone book (remember them?) in a phone booth (remember them?) and even calling Information on that pay phone (remember them?!) but they weren’t listed anywhere, and their location remained a mystery.

Fast forward a 5-6 years later, and Mod Betty, now dating a musician (who would later be known to you all as Retro Roadhusband) who is getting some professional photos taken in The Big Apple. We drive up from the Delaware beach to pick them up, and what restaurant does Mod Betty spy with her very own eyes? Well I don’t have to tell you – because here’s the photo of Mod B to prove it!

La Bonbonniere - Mod Betty circ 2001 Retro Roadmap

Mod Betty circa 2000/2001 – you can tell it’s an old photo because it’s so small!

Now that I actually knew where it was, I can’t honestly explain why it took me almost 15 years to then go and actually eat there. All I can say in my lame defense is our New York City jaunts rarely brought us to that neighborhood, and you never realize how the years slip by too quickly and BAM 15 years go by like that. LIKE.THAT! 

That’s why when Retro Roadhusband asked Mod Betty what she wanted to do on her birthday this year, she said, “dagnabbit, we’re going to eat breakfast at La Bonbonniere!” and we did.

La Bonbonniere New York City NY West Village Mod Betty Retro Roadmap

Better late than never! Mod Betty August 2016

It was a crowded weekend morning but once we sussed out that the seating was a bit of a free for all, we nabbed an inside table, as there was nary a counter stool space to be found.  We ordered our breakfast from the menu that looks just like the back cover of the Candy Butchers’ CD (!!)

La Bonbonniere - NYC - New York - NY - Retro Roadmap

As we waited for our meal to arrive we entertained ourselves by gazing at the history taped to the walls. Plastered there were layers of ephemera – photos of famous people who have dined here, a label from a hash can, articles extolling the virtues of their cheeseburgers and yes, the Candy Butchers CD cover.

One piece in particular struck my heart, so I snapped a photo and have incorporated its message into my approach to life:

“It’s surprising how much you can get done
if you don’t care who gets the credit”


La Bonbonniere - NYC - New York - NY - Retro Roadmap

You never know when life will teach you a lesson. Maybe while waiting for breakfast!

I later researched that the Harold Warp to which this is credited (ironically) was a rags to riches self-made man who invented Flex-o-glass and opened the roadside attraction Pioneer Village in Nebraska in 1953 (which also looks like a Retro Roadmap worthy destination!)

La Bonbonniere - NYC - New York - NY - Retro Roadmap

Breakfast arrived and hit the spot.

But breakfast wasn’t really the reason we were here. We were here because we were reminded that if there are things you say you want to do with your life, you better start doing them. Don’t let 15 (or 20!) years pass by. Places close, people leave. 

Carpe that diem, even if it means just going out for breakfast.