Monday, June 11, 2012

Mickey Mantle's Restaurant Closes After 25 Years

The Mick was my Dad's favorite player growing up as a kid in Westchester, in fact he was everyone's favorite player during a time when Baseball stirred the imagination of an entire country. How times have changed. After 25 years on Park Avenue South, Mickey Mantle's restaurant has closed, and I gotta say it's very sad day indeed. My Dad took me there soon after it had opened and I remember how excited he was just to be in a place called Mickey Mantle's. To this day I still can't relate to the type of idol worship they had back in the 50's and 60's for a bunch of guys on a baseball field. I love baseball, but it's a different sort of love than they had back at a time when TV's were black and white and reporters didn't exactly report everything the players did. These guys were seen as superhuman, and Mickey Mantle was certainly at the forefront of that discussion. Anytime my Dad and I discuss a great player of today he always talks about how fast Mickey was, or how far the Mick could hit a ball, there is no persuading him. So today when I told him about the restaurant closing I knew he took it harder than he let on. You see for him Mickey Mantle represents the best part of his childhood, probably the best memories of his life.
The restaurant was filled with all kinds of Yankee memorabilia, like the jersey's of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio hung behind glass doors, and several of Mickey's bats hung all over. Even for a Mets fan like me, I knew how significant of a place it was even if I don't really remember the food too much, I mean I think I had a hamburger the first time. Back then I wasn't much of a foodie.
25 years is a long time in the restaurant business and one has to wonder if the restaurant could have lasted longer if the Mick was still alive. Not that he was all that involved when it had opened. Mickey Mantle was not much of a business man and certainly during the 80's he spent a lot of his time drinking, so it is hard for me to imagine that he really had much to do with the place. That's not the point really.
What Mickey Mantle's restaurant represented was the memory of one of the greatest baseball players ever to play the game even if his bad habits kept him from being the absolute best. It was a shrine to him, and to a person that so many children grew up idolizing trying to mimmic his every gesture. Even for a Mets fan like myself, something that my Father still doesn't understand, I can appreciate just what this place meant to so many.
The reasons for it's demise are not uncommon. Poor management, a decrease in customers, or a rise in costs. Last April it was reported that the restaurant was having troubles, and just last month a brief reprieve in bankruptcy court was given, but it was to no avail. So I say so long to Mickey Mantle's, a place where I stepped into the past with my Dad who always seemed to get a bit younger every time we went.

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