When Eateries Become Porn Shops Become Eateries

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Photo: Daniel Maurer

Racked notices that the last porn shop on St. Marks is closing, and points out that Michael “Bao” Huynh has the lease. Could he be taking it over? It wouldn’t be the first time an eatery replaced a porn shop. We recently noticed that Famous Famiglia opened a location at 488 Eighth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets, in a building that most recently housed a three-story Adult Entertainment Center. Before that, though, it was home to Bickford’s, the lunchroom institution that was memorialized by everyone from Allen Ginsberg (in "Howl") to Walker Evans to Woody Allen. As recounted in a Times article that’s reprinted on a Bicksford’s tribute site, the chain (a rival of automat giant Horn & Hardart) was founded in 1922, grew to 42 stores in the seventies, and then dwindled to just two in 1980 before dying out altogether. After a stint in adult entertainment, the Eighth Avenue location has (for better or worse) returned to its homegrown grab-and-go chain roots via Famous Famiglia.