The Last Luncheon





Barney’s New York

The Pressmans’ legacy

Once the place where we out of towners went to figure out what the cool kids were wearing

Over the years, our stops in the flagship store on Madison have felt more and more like out of body experiences than high touch, high end, exclusive retail

“Um, who in the world would wear that?”

“What is the matter with Barney’s?”

“This is not the store we knew”

“Who’s gonna pay for that?”

The press announced with no small amount of schadenfreude that it’s all a thing of the past

A great shopping experience

Cutting edge clothes

Beautiful space

Concierge service




Which brings us to the subject at hand, our meal at Fred’s in the City

We love Fred’s at Barney’s

Clever play on the Flintstones

Brightly lit space on the Ninth Floor

We went there the day after Thanksgiving a few years ago

Place was jammed packed

We went there with just we four a few Saturdays ago on our trip to NYC

The eight floors below seemed empty

The concierge smiled as we entered off Madison

But everything else in the store was dead


Especially the mens’ department

I guess my Barney’s brand ties are now collectors’ items

We looked at some items before our 1 p.m. reservation

I swanny

No one was in Barney’s

No one

It used to always be packed

We took the elevator to the Ninth Floor, and, on exiting, it was like nothing had changed….felt just like 2012


That’s nostalgia?

Seven years ago?

The brightly lit space

The waiters in constant motion

The hostesses being gracious yet firm

“Just a moment, Sir, your table will be ready”

The foursomes who eat there every Saturday

The table of a famous actress in the corner

The well turned out NYC family with disaffected daughter and son constantly on their phones


The London family whose table backed up to ours

The little lady who seemed lost until the waiter approached. She grabbed him by the arm and said, “Oh, thank God. Jose! It’s you. Where’s Walter?”

“Your husband is this way…..”

We sat in a booth facing the windows

Lobster bisque

Caesar salads

Lentil soup

Frittes for the table

Always frittes for the table

The two ladies from New Jersey with their daughters

“I can’t believe this is all going away”

“Drink your Bloody. May be the last one”

It felt so clubby

And bright

And familiar

The food was never going to knock the socks off of its patrons

But, it was always good

And reliable

For a chain in a department store

The announcement some five days later that there would now be pop-ups and instagrammable events in the store makes our meal there seem like some glorious invocation of the past

A recent past

Something so sad about the great temple of commerce going away

Something so comforting about our meal at Fred’s

Always so comforting

The lentil soup special that day pleased our eldest

Huge chunks of lobster in the bisque

The bread basket teeming and ready to be dragged through olive oil

So last century

So damned good

All I could think as I read the news about Barney’s demise was that I was glad we were there for one last luncheon

In light of the lentil soup special that day, I also thought there was something Biblical in the announcement that 660 Madison would soon be gone

Jacob and Easau

Selling off the Pressmans’ birthright for metaphorical bowls of lentil soup

Barney’s CEO stated that her entire industry is in survival mode

High rents

Lower sales

Online and direct sales increasing

But, oh, that lobster bisque

We’ll miss you Fred’s and Barney’s

Yabba dabba doo

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