the breakfast dictator [215]

My Server’s Name was Maple

Posted in Breakfast Portraits, Travel by thebreakfastdictator on October 11, 2009


The overnight low was an unseasonably cold thirty-five and it was oh-so-warm in bed. Sleeping another three hours didn’t sound like a bad idea, but there was breakfast to be had. Ice covered my windshield and I scraped it off with an old, too-scratched-to-listen-to Smashing Pumpkins CD.

Walking down 6th, I could see the Spoon in the distance and it appeared warm and inviting, much like 312 used to be in Bloomington adventures of years past. I arrived a few minutes past eight, just as it was opening and slowly waking to life. When it’s that early on a Sunday, you can sit where you like. I chose a small nook with wooden benches near the front door where the windows are large and blue morning light was slowly streaming through them.

My server was the same pretty, doe-eyed girl as yesterday, which was fortunate, for in the madness of the morning rush, there was no way I’d’ve been able to make her photograph then. I asked her to sit at the large table in the center of the front dining room and peppered her with questions while cleanly snapping a few frames.



I often forget the power of the camera to break into new people’s lives and though she was not my server, she refilled my coffee a few times. I asked to make her photograph as well, and after dancing around the dining room floor for a few moments to take care of her orders, Wix most certainly obliged. She was clearly comfortable with the camera and I made a few frames of her in a few different spots in the restaurant. She called over Maple and I took a few more of them together. They refilled my coffee and headed back to work as the breakfast crowd began to meander in.

I finished up my coffee and said good-bye. And as I was leaving, Wix told me I should live here.

Don’t tempt me.

Breakfast Portraits {2} | Melissa Choi

Posted in Breakfast Portraits by thebreakfastdictator on October 8, 2009
Melissa Choi | Artisan Boulanger Patissier

Melissa Choi | Artisan Boulanger Patissier

“I feel like somewhere different. How about Frangelli’s? I hear they have great donuts.”

“Sure. Where’s that at?”

“Ritner. Between 8th and 9th.”

“Look at those donuts, made by old Italian women at 3 o’clock this morning. Amazing. I don’t even know what to get.”

“They say the jelly donut is the best.”

“I don’t care for those.”

“Neither do I, but I should probably try it…”

We purchased a few of the best donuts I’ve had since Sunrise Donuts in Idaho Springs, CO and since there was nowhere to sit and make a photograph, we meandered over to 10th and Snyder to try out the 10th St Cafe, which had OPEN signs on the door but was clearly not.

“Now what?”

“I don’t know.”

“Me either. I don’t know the deep South. It’s a different neighborhood down here.”

After seeing the same random guy sitting on two separate blocks and on two different houses’ stoops, we finally ended up at the Artisan Boulanger Pasissier, a French Bakery in Italian South Philly run by an Asian Couple on the corner of 12th and Morris. The coffee wasn’t too bad and after all those donuts, I couldn’t even approach the “Chocolate Bread” that I ordered, saving it for Lunch, which was fast approaching. Warm sunlight was streaming in the giant windows along 12th and I pulled out the Hasselblad, exposing about 4 frames of Tri-X. My goodness, I love that camera and its unmistakable, aggressive shutter sound.

Melissa browsed the Metro while I sipped hot coffee and wished we were part of the the cast of a Tarantino film.

For a minute, it certainly felt like it.

Breakfast Portraits {1} | J.F.T.

Posted in Breakfast Portraits by thebreakfastdictator on September 29, 2009
JFT | Honeys Sit n Eat

JFT | Honey's Sit 'n Eat

Everytime we go to Honey’s it’s overcast. It feels like Pittsbugh in ’07. Those dreary mornings welcomed us with light rain and grey clouds as we woke to trains running through the old steel yards along Hatfield Street. That city is still strong, but not steel strong. Strong in a different way. The WSJ even says so.

We were only roommates for a few months, but now, two years and 4 cities later, we catch up at Honey’s for breakfast every other week. It was there that the first of the breakfast portraits was made on that overcast September morning. We weren’t welcomed with the sound of the trains rustling along the tracks, but everything else felt so familiar.

Some things never change.