BICKFORD’S, 8th Avenue

by Kevin Walsh

Adjoining the Gross pawnbroker on 8th Avenue near W. 34th  is a concrete facade touting the long-gone presence of Bickford’s, one of a chain of luncheonettes and eateries founded by Samuel L. Bickford in 1922. It was a chain restaurant a bit of a step below Child’s or Schrafft’s and had they survived, a step above what a fast food franchise would be now. This particular sign has been exposed since about 2000. The chain’s heyday was the 1920 through the 1950s, though a few hung tough to about 1980.

Probably the most notable Bickford’s I remember was part of the old Long Island Rail Road terminal on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in downtown Brooklyn. The old facade survived long after it closed about 1965.

6/3/13

21 comments

ron s June 3, 2013 - 6:32 pm

Bickford’s were commonly located at large subway and el stops—Ditmars Blvd. and (I believe) Roosevelt and 74th had Bickfords nearby.

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chris June 3, 2013 - 6:55 pm

Had they survived? I think some are still around.

http://www.bickfordsrestaurants.com/history.aspx

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Larry June 5, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Bickford’s cafeterias had a subsidiary…Ray’s Food Shops….

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Jeffrey H. Wasserman June 6, 2013 - 6:35 am

I recall the Bickfords at the corner of 6th Avenue and 23rd Street in the Masonic Hall building. It was a quiet, lonesome affair. A Chase bank branch occupies the spot now.

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Larry June 6, 2013 - 3:03 pm

Bickfords was a Very Cold feeling place..especially that one in the LIRR station downtown Brooklyn…not like the more Ethnic cafeterias around NYC like Dubrows, Hectors, Garfields, etc, which were always very busy and vibrant….

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J June 7, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Bickford’s also lent its name (albeit slightly different spelling) to one of the characters in Mark Alan Stamaty’s excellent and recently reissued Who Needs Donuts?

http://www.amazon.com/Needs-Donuts-Mark-Alan-Stamaty/dp/0375825509

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Mr Mel June 8, 2013 - 3:42 pm

There was a Bickfords on theSW corner of 3rd Ave &23 St, down the block from the CCNY (now Baruch College) main building on 23rd & Lex. I liked the English muffins, they served hamburgers on them as well. The store is now a Starbucks.

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tom November 26, 2014 - 12:14 pm

I had a cup of watery coffee at Flatbush ave. It was a hellish place. One night some character held his hand high in the air and yelled “This is a stickup!” from my location underneath a table I realized his hand was empty, it was his finger pointing at the ceiling. He looked at us all cowering and burst into a deep satisfied laugh, and nonchalantly walked out.

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tom November 26, 2014 - 12:16 pm

It was 1970.

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Ed July 9, 2017 - 11:06 am

There was a Bickford’s coffee shop in Jamaica, Queens in the late 1950s/early 1960s. As I recall it was on 168th Street just south of Hillside Avenue near the E/F subway station. Seemed to be a decent and popular place.

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JF Purcell December 1, 2017 - 11:27 am

On 8th Ave. off 34th St, there is a Famiglia Pizzeria there now in Dec. 2017.

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garfinkel August 8, 2018 - 11:35 am

My buddies and I would stop by the Flatbush ave branch every morning on our way to Brooklyn tech hs……..coffee and 2 tiny donuts only 25 cents………..if only it could be 1963 again

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Tom V. September 9, 2019 - 11:03 pm

I went to Jamaica HS and I’d go to the Bickford’s at 168th and Hillside Ave in Queens. They had an oatmeal cookie that was gigantic, chewy and delicious. I’d stop there with friends almost every day. Miss those big oatmeal cookies,

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Jig Wo March 19, 2019 - 9:04 pm

“who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s…who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge”

Allen Ginsberg HOWL. 1955

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Brian May 8, 2019 - 2:59 am

“It should happen to you”, 1954 movie, just seen a Bickfords in there 😉

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Dolors October 3, 2019 - 5:41 pm

Read Marvel Brenan

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Dolors October 3, 2019 - 5:43 pm

Excuse me: Maeve Brennan

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Don D May 31, 2020 - 1:15 pm

I am watching that movie now and saw Bickford’s. Wonder if Gladys Glover ever stoppedin? ☺

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Chris September 9, 2020 - 12:57 pm

There is scaffolding up now at this location. they may be taking the facade down.

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Rich W November 14, 2020 - 4:01 pm

I used to stop at Bickfords , located on the N/E corner of 7th Ave & W14th St in Manhattan.

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Michael Pescatore November 16, 2020 - 3:40 pm

There used to be two Irish bars on the west side of 7th avenue just across from the aforementioned Bickford’s ….Molly Maguire’s and Gately’s. Back in the early 70’s to early 80’s which were my high school and college years, my friends and I practically lived in those two dives. When they closed at 4am we’d stagger across 7th avenue to Bickford’s in an attempt to eat
ourselves sober. There was an older waitress who worked the counter there. Her name was Rita and she was the absolute best.

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