Chapter 4 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

None of the people who lived at the Asylum made enough money in their various creative endeavors to support themselves. Therefore, they collectively owned and operated a doughnut shop in a neighboring building. It was called "Dollars to Donuts."

The food at "Dollars to Donuts" was basic, and the menu very limited. They sold only a few things, but they prepared them very well. Their doughnuts were a dollar apiece, a bit steep for doughnuts, but customers paid this price willingly because the doughnuts were the best available anywhere. They were lighter and airier and tastier than any other doughnut sold in the City. On the other hand, their coffee was nothing special, so it was free.

The breakfast menu included sourdough pancakes of outstanding quality. The lunch menu featured an excellent Monte Cristo sandwich. And the specialty of the house, which was very often sold out, was chocolate angel food cake.

The restaurant itself was broken into two sections, like a gas station: full service and self service. In the center of the room was a large space filled up with tables and chairs. If you sat here, you placed your order at a counter at the back, and carried it to your table yourself.

Along either side of the room were a number of booths, and these tables received full waiter service. The booths were walled on three sides, and had large black curtains at either end of the fourth. When in use, the curtains could be drawn closed to allow the customers to eat and converse in privacy. These booths were very popular, and at peak hours, you might need to make a reservation in order to get one. Businessmen went there to discuss terms with clients, lovers went there to have arguments, and troubled people went there to be alone.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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