The Pier Coffee Shop
On the bicycle ride north out of Ft. Lauderdale, one encounters some impressive beach, which sags under
some of the most atrocious architecture anywhere. In between two housing blocks that must have been
designed by the ILGWU sits a little sanctuary, of some three hundred square feet, called
Lauderdale-By-the-Sea. The mayoral candidate in this town goes by the name of G. "Peanuts" Wick.
On the beach at Lauderdale-By-The-Sea there is a fishing pier, and on the fishing pier sits the Pier Coffee
Shop, or The Pier. The shack or "indoors", also known as The Pier Restaurant, consists of a long counter
with chrome-and-leather stools and a few tables. Outdoors there is a balcony with four or five wooden
booths, through which one must pass to reach the adjacent fish store. Sitting in a booth, kindling comes to
mind. One match, and the place disappears. If Hopper saw the Pier, he would paint it on driftwood.
There are two waitresses at The Pier, whose names must be Sal (short for "Sallie") and Gwen. Sal would
have a cigarette dangling from her lips if the health codes permitted it, and is entirely uninterested in her
customers, except, of course, the ones she knows. She was visibly annoyed when she heard I had ordered
a vanilla milkshake ("hate makin' 'em"). Gwen will sit with her customers, whose orders she will get
OK, so don't order the vanilla milkshake, especially if you believe a vanilla milkshake should have vanilla
syrup in it. But you cannot beat the Friday special, which is a pattie melt with grilled onions on toast, and
hash browns "on demand", since the fryer is broken. The menu is painted on the wall, with illustrations. No
industrial photography here: The breakfast special - eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes - is rendered with the
particularity of a Vermeer, and even faded is mouth-watering to look at. From the pier, you eat your pattie
melt and watch the waves hitting the beach.
Lately there have been a few books coming out on the subject of Happiness, which generally pursue
Eastern spiritualism, and borrow from Vedantic mysteries, Tibetan Buddhism , and the like. But for those
who find their happiness in smaller portions, there is no better place to be for Friday lunch than on the Pier
On January 28, 2008, The Pier closed for business, after 46 years in the same family.