“Ask me the price of a case of mayonnaise and I’ll tell you.”

Some days, everything just seems to line up. Yesterday I found out I’d been accepted into the Age Boom Academy, a seminar for journalists run by the International Longevity Institute, so my boyfriend and I went out for a celebratory drink. On a whim we ducked down a set of stairs on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village, below a red neon sign that said Fedora’s. We found ourselves in a cozy, low-ceilinged room and ordered martinis at the bar. When I commented on baby pictures taped to the cash register, the bartender informed me that they were of the proprietor’s great-grandson. “How old is she?” I asked. “Fedora’s eighty-six,” was the answer. “She’ll be down in 10 minutes or so.”


Sure enough, a tiny, beautiful, white-haired woman soon entered, greeted two tables of diners, and got to work behind the bar. She’s Fedora Nannini, named after the opera not the hat. Her husband Henry’s father opened the place as a speakeasy in 1919; when  Henry took it over, he worked the bar.  "Henry used to say, ‘I’m a bartender but I’m a psychiatrist,’” Fedora told us as she rang up our drinks. When Henry died eleven years ago, Fedora took over the bar. She also does all the cooking. (the restaurant’s open every night but Tuesday, serving classic northern Italian dishes) andl the ordering (“Ask me the price of a case of mayonnaise and I’ll tell you”). She’s just finished with someone making a documentary about her, but yes, she’ll make time for an interview.


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