Best Literary Lunch (2001)

Sheldon's Drugs

The late Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer and his wife, Alma, used to visit this soda fountain and drugstore at least once a day, sometimes twice. For lunch Singer often ordered the grilled cheese on white. The prolific short-story writer and novelist was at Sheldon's in 1978 when a courier from the Nobel Prize committee showed up at his Surfside home with the news he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sent to the drugstore to find the author, the courier interrupted Singer's midday meal. The unassuming writer reportedly replied with characteristic aplomb, "Oh, okay," and resumed eating. Singer probably liked the place, says owner Ethel Spector, wife of the late Sheldon, because the backstore diner treated him like any other customer. A sign printed on typing paper above a table near the coffee station states that Singer learned he won literature's greatest award in 1979 while sitting at "this" table. Even if they got the year wrong and have since moved the tables around, there's something inspiring about eating near where genius dined. In addition to its literary charms, Sheldon's is a soda-fountain aficionado's dream. They serve old-school sundaes with pineapple goo and chocolate sauce; banana splits; New York egg creams; phosphates; ice cream sodas; and thick, rich milkshakes in tall frosted glasses with both a straw and a spoon.


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