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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Stardust in my eyes

You know I’ll dance and I’ll sing,
I’ll do anything
Just to get my name in lights.
It can happen overnight in these modern times.
                                                                       "When I Get My Name in Lights",
                                                                                         The Boy from Oz,
                                                                                                 Lyrics by Peter Allen

     New York City – the place where dreams come true. But you have to start with a dream. Many an actor waits tables just dreaming of that elusive big break that comes when someone walks in and notices their talent. On my last trip to the Big Apple, I got to witness many a dream in formation when we had lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway and 51st Street.

Outside Ellen's Stardust Diner - Broadway and 51st Street (safety scaffolding not included)
     There, on that corner, you will find a façade of an old subway car and a diner with a 1950’s feel to it. Head inside and you step back to the DooWop music era, with circular booths, a drive-in screen, lots of old-fashioned televisions, and live entertainment. The location once held Ellen’s Café. In 1987, the café closed and the Stardust Diner opened. Now considered a major tourist stop in NYC, Stardust Diner boasts some great food, reasonable prices and a singing wait staff. There’s a party going on right there, from opening to closing, each day.
One of the many waiters entertaining the house from the catwalk
     On our last day in the city, we made it a point to eat at the Stardust. I’ve heard that sometimes there’s a big wait to get in and get a seat. The diner doesn’t take reservations, unless you have a party of over 25 people. So, you take your chances on getting a table. This time, however, we got a place to sit and eat right away. There is lots of table space at the diner, with an upstairs balcony seating available. Tables in the balcony overlook the main floor. Any singing waiter works both levels of the house with great ease. Our show host bragged that last theater season, fourteen out of the sixteen waiters moved on to regular jobs in Broadway shows. This is THE place to get your start and get noticed.
A waiter singing to her customers from the main floor
      We ordered basic diner food here. Many of the offerings had celebrity titles that gave you an idea of the dish’s ingredients. The Jack LaLanne Veggie Burger has absolutely no hint of meat. Menu items like the Dean Martin and Marlon Brando have an Italian flair. Even the desserts have themed names. You can get “Wicked” cake (a chocolate peppermint cake with chocolate filling and vanilla cream icing), the Girl Scout (toasted coconut cake with chocolate filling, caramel icing, and more caramel and chocolate on top), and diner dessert basics (milkshakes, malted, pies, red velvet cake, and more).
Two levels to entertain with lots of balcony seating
      While we ate, the waiters took turns serenading us with popular show tunes from current hits, country songs from long ago, and doowop classics from the 1950’s and 60’s. Their stage is the aisles… yes, they walk around and sing to you at your table, while dodging other waiters delivering orders. There is a catwalk around the back of some of the center booths, too. All singers got on the catwalk for most of the song, since it brought them to “stage” level and everyone could see them. Some waiters encouraged you to sing along. And, of course, we did! Now I can say I sang on Broadway!
Our waiter - Nikki - singing the blues...

...from the catwalk
     Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a place you need to experience for yourself. Put this on you “Gotta do” list for the Big Apple. Check out their website for more information and menu list.
     Here’s the link: http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com/
     Now, the next time I head to NYC and go over to Stardust to eat, how many of YOU will I see in action, trying to live your dreams?

"When I Get My Name in Lights" by Peter Allen
The Boy from Oz

Keep dreaming…

Photos are the property of Marge McGugan. No reuse without permission. 
Video retrieved from YouTube on February 1, 2015 (public domain)

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