Ode to the Spoon of Grease

April 12, 2010

By Matt Ocks, Manager of Institutional Giving

Today may be the start of baseball season here at home, but last Sunday was the end of an era for all of us at Arden Theatre Company.  Snow White Diner, a greasy spooned fixture of our Old City neighborhood, shut down for good after serving countless cheap and well-buttered meals to our casts, crews and staff.

And while the Arden’s Blog exists mainly to communicate with you – our readers – about the more nitty gritty details of running a non-profit theatre, from season planning with Ed to rehearsals with Evan, it seems only fitting that one of us should write about the lunch place that is no more.

I had a meal at Snow White on my first day of work at the Arden in 2006.  The plays, comics and books I have read there during the solitude of many a 3 PM lunch break include The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, Watchmen by Alan Moore, Don Quixote,, The Satanic Verses, The Good German, The Boys of Summer, and, yes, Bruce Graham’s Something Intangible (There may be no better place to read a Bruce Graham play than at a joint like Snow White, over a cup of pasty spit pea soup with croutons and a greasy, grilled tuna melt sandwich).  My own first play, Cheesesteak Latkes, is even set in a diner like Snow White, that doesn’t stay open past 7, and hardly has any specials.

I’ve talked over a basket of fries with Arden stars like Michael Doherty, ordered fountain sodas with the Caroline, or Change strike crew, and inhaled greasy, toasted bread with other folks on our staff – the ultimate rejuvenating cure for an Arden opening night hangover.

Over the years I’ve voiced many complaints about Snow White.  “They oughtta stay open later!”  “They oughtta have liverwurst more!”  “What’s with those Styrofoam cups, hanh?!!”

But it was never the kvetching of a cranky curmudgeon who wanted the place to close.  It was the gentle critique of an attentive baseball coach who wants his team to do better.

Now that Snow White really is closed, and another trendy bar is about to open, I cannot help but wonder:  When things are looking grim on a 10-out-of-12 day, or the Inquirer review was bad, or the grant we sent in got rejected, where can we get puffy French toast, or a cup of some thick minestrone, or the honest-to-God world’s best coffee at a time when we really need it?

Because everyone who knows may go to Melrose, but everyone who works here went there.

So long, then, Snow White Diner.  I’ll be smelling greasy spoons in my dreams…

4 Responses

  1. Katherine says:

    My first meal in Philadelphia– ever!– was at the Snow White Diner. I was so nervous before my first interview for the apprenticeship that I arrived roughly seven hours too early and spent the better part of the day holed up in a booth, eating grilled cheese, sipping coffee and reading Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys. The waitress was the first person to welcome me to Philadelphia; I’m pretty sure our class thanked them in our showcase program for keeping us fed and sane over an exhausting, wild year. It really does feel like the end of an era….

  2. Amy says:

    Ah, Chicken Noodle Soup. I’ll miss you.

  3. KarenLeePA says:

    I’ve been reminded of the closing by Arden and DutchUmbrella on twitter today. I too lament the closing. I lived in Old City from 1989 – 2000 and it was THE place to meet for breakfast before doing almost anything on the weekends. Heck, I remember it’s twin, the Continental dinner on the other corner. It was always grilled sticky buns at Continental, but breakfast (with grits!) at Snow White. Let’s just hope that Mrs. K Koffee Shop doesn’t close on Chestnut at 4th. Last breakfast place standing in Old City, and I love those counters!

  4. […] Members of the Sylvan Society celebrated at a pre-show reception at Revolution House (formerly the Snow White Diner!) at Second and Market Streets, with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Terry Nolen and Amy Murphy […]

Leave a Reply