By Frances Roberts and Richard Levine
Apparently, we had another British Invasion last week, only this time instead of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five they brought sandwiches. The Earl of Sandwich opened its first New York store (they already have a bunch of stores in the USA) with the 11th Earl of Montagu himself (the 4th was the guy who thought of putting meat between two slices of bread). That got us thinking about what other insidious fast food concepts have slipped stealthily (and not so stealthily) across the pond to conquer our palates.
Prêt a Manger arrived here in 2001 as the first wave. They already had conquered London, and they’re British, not French, despite their name! They’ve been opening up shops at a steady pace here and at one time McDonald’s had a third of the company.
The Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien has been around since 1990 and last year opened up a shop in Central Park, in the Mineral Springs area where the Dept. of Parks has operated a concession for 130 years. We always thought that parks concessions were a fairly recent idea, boy were we wrong. They compete in the city with their arch rival Au Bon Pain, which isn’t French.. or Belgian.. they’re from Boston!
Finally, what many thought was another invasion from Europe in 1960 was actually an invasion from the Bronx. Haagen-Dazs ice cream, despite its faux Danish name (which means absolutely nothing) was created by Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx in New York and pretty much single-handedly started the premium ice cream market.
Richard Levine and Frances Roberts, of Levine Roberts Photography, are a husband and wife team of photographers covering politics, environmental issues, the economy, and business and social and cultural issues in The Big Apple. See more photos from their collection on Newscom.
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