Sara Jenkins Explores the ‘Strange, Sad’ Restaurant-Auction Demimonde


Restaurant auctions always struck us as the culinary version of an estate sale, wherein folks gather to score good deals off of the recently deceased. And Sara Jenkins’ latest column for The Atlantic pretty much confirms that impression.

Jenkins recently attended an auction at “a dreary little Italian restaurant in the West Village that had been in business since 1978.” (Ennio & Michael?) While she and her sous chef did indeed find some good deals, they didn’t lessen the gloom that hung over the experience. From the “auctioneer in a cheap suit” to the “two repulsive older goombas who seem to specialize in buying up large equipment” to the “two old Italian guys cleaning out the last of the food, some industrial packages of frozen lasagna and some insipid pitted green olives,” Jenkins’ descriptions make the auction world sound like both a funeral and a Diane Arbus photograph.

“I am saddened by the overall grimness of the situation,” she writes, “the cheap hustlers, the sad old men, the lack of beauty attached to a cuisine and a vocation that can be so stunningly beautiful.” Reading this, so are we.

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