QS Restaurant Week — An Oral History of Skateboarding’s Most Notorious Fast Food Hangouts

Words & Interviews by Frozen in Carbonite
Illustrations by Cosme Studio

The history of the [largely extinct] American Skate Plaza™ has been documented meticulously in thousands of hours of video footage, interviews and podcasts.

However, documentarians of #theculture have largely overlooked the ancillary dining establishments that fueled — on a molecular level — the innovation and unforgettable sessions at spots like the Brooklyn Banks, Pulaski, Embarcadero and Love Park.

Until the rise of “foodie” culture, Yelp and the general trend of eating healthy and shit, most skaters’ palates trended towards the most convenient fast-casual options.

With that in mind, and in conjunction with New York Restaurant Week (which is apparently almost a month long ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), we present Quartersnacks Restaurant Week — an oral history of legendary spot-adjacent fast food restaurants. Over the course of conducting the interviews, some common themes emerged, i.e. most skaters favored carb-heavy menu options as an easily accessible energy source. In addition, at most spots the skaters and food service workers formed alliances — an interesting anthropological wrinkle in terms of how different cultures interact.

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The Embarcadero Carl’s Jr. with Karl Watson

How many stars out of five would you give it?

3 stars.

What was your go-to menu item?

Cheeseburger — no pickles, no onions — and fries. I’d eat my fries and flick the ends of my fries that I hadn’t touched at my friends or around the restaurant. That became a habit — not the flicking part — but eating the ends of my fries became a lifelong habit.

Craziest shit you ever saw go down there?

There was a guy there named Monkey Man — kinda long arms, grumpy all the time. We would always just make him mad.

I think the craziest thing that I saw there — and it was something that I had never seen at that point — was when Chico, who is a very level-headed guy, fell to the ground with a leg cramp. It was just catastrophic. He was like “ahhhh!” and I was like “what’s going on; is he ok?”

Did anyone ever try to flex on skaters in there?

Monkey Man was one to step up to us, and nobody really wanted a piece of him ’cause he had those big buff monkey arms.

Anyone run any scams in there on a regular basis?

It was all about the soda machine. We would always get the water cups and get sodas; they hated us for it. We would always overstay our welcome, too. We would order food, and somebody would pick it up and act like they were the person [who ordered it.] And the person who actually ordered the food would be like “Hey, where’s my food at?! Nah, I didn’t get it; that was somebody else! That dude walked out the door, that’s not part of our crew.” And we’d get a free meal.

Did y’all get a new go-to spot after everyone migrated to Pier 7?

We didn’t have a spot after Pier 7 came about. We didn’t go back to Carl’s Jr. We had no spot. We’d bring a bag lunch.

The Brooklyn Banks Burger King with Ian Reid

“I think somebody got thrown through the window once, and I’m trying to remember who the fuck it was.”

How many stars would you give it?

Oh, this shit gets five stars. They had free refills, and some of the people [who worked there] were young and cool and would give you free food because they knew you were different because you skated or rode a bike. For me, that makes a five-star establishment.

What was your go-to menu item?

French fries — just french fries would be it. Starch.

Craziest shit you ever saw go down there?

That’s a tough question, because there’s been a lot of ridiculous shit. I mean, it’s mostly fights. Sometimes the Burger King employees would get pissed and try to rope off a section with these yellow chains, like “you can’t go over there” and that would be the start of the fight. I think somebody got thrown through the window once, and I’m trying to remember who the fuck it was.

Towards the end there was this manager who came. He started off as manager at Burger King and then became the manager at Wendy’s, which was right down the block. So when we all migrated from Burger King to Wendy’s, we saw this dickhead and we were like “ah man, fuck him.” He was this skinny white dude with a weird little mustache and glasses and shit. Anyone who was there knows exactly who the fuck this dude is. I was just like “Man, what a fuckin’ weirdo; what a fuckin’ maniac.” When he was at Burger King he wasn’t really a dickhead, but then when he got to Wendy’s he became a dickhead.

What was the deal with the cups?

You got free refills as long as you had a Burger King cup. So if you left, and you stashed your cup outside somewhere — if it was still clean — you could just come back in with the same cup and fill up again, for however long you wanted. We used to chip in and buy a big cup, all of us. It was like $2.30.

Did you ever fuck with Burritoville?

Burritoville was an interesting spot. There was another spot that we kinda used to hang out at down there, but Burritoville was definitely the one. Burritoville was [for] a certain type of person: you had to have money to go to Burritoville. Only the people who were getting paid could go there. The motherfuckers who were just skating to be skating, they’d go to Burger King. Like Rodney [Torres] and those dudes, Airto Jackson. They were getting paid off skateboarding, so they could afford that shit. The regular kids like myself and some of the other young motherfuckers — we couldn’t afford that shit, so we didn’t go there.

What’s the go-to downtown spot now that it’s gone?

I have no idea. Now these kids are all healthy and shit. They probably go to Duane Reade and get some kombucha or something.

The Love Park Wawa with Rich Adler

“Not like a skateboarder that was around Love Park or anything to do with the scene, but some maniac that had a skateboard and used it as a weapon.”

How many stars?

I feel like one difference between this Wawa and a lot of the other spots you’re mentioning is that there’s not a place to eat the food inside the door, which kinda added to it. Everyone would be sitting on the ledge [outside] eating. I’d give it a solid four stars.

What was your go-to menu item?

Back in the day I would eat a lot of glazed honeybuns and Tastykakes. A big chunk of fatty bread. And then the Wawa half gallon of lemon tea — get that instead of water.

My dream menu item is the meatball sandwich with provolone cheese. It’s pretty solid. It’s Hoagiefest right now, so you can get one for five bucks.

Hell yeah, Hoagiefest is the best time of the year.

We’re livin’ it.

Craziest shit you ever saw go down there?

This homeless guy Otis pulled a rusty screwdriver out on somebody and threatened them with it.

Did anyone ever try to flex on skaters?

There was one time that the Wawa was actually robbed aggressively by a skateboarder. A skateboarder — not like a skateboarder that was around Love Park or anything to do with the scene, but some maniac that had a skateboard and used it as a weapon — actually hit the clerk with it. From there, they were rounding up skaters that fit the description and bringing them to the hospital to compare them. It was a crazy bust, and at that point, we didn’t even go anywhere near Wawa; it got really weird for a second. I don’t think there was ever any resolution to the story. But nah, they were always nice.

Anyone run any scams?

Not at that particular Wawa, but at the Wawa near the Chinatown bus stop, one time I came out and some guy had almost like a trenchcoat on. He opened it up and he was like “Hey man,” and he pulls out one of those Betta fish. “20 bucks!” I was like “No thanks.”

Was it in a little plastic bag swimming around?

No, it was a little tank like you’d see at the pet shop — a little crystal ball-sized bowl. All kinds of funny stuff going on at Wawa.

Classic or shorti hoagie?

Definitely the classic, I mean the classic right now is five and the shorti is four. Might as well save some for later.

The Pulaski McDonald’s with Carlos “Pooch” Kenner

“We actually used to run up there and hide from the police.”

How many stars?

Five stars.

How often did y’all eat here back in the day?

We would eat there maybe like three times a day.

What was your go-to menu item?

I forget the number, but it was definitely the Quarter Pounder meal. And back then, they had the apple á-la-mode, so I would always eat those and the fries.

Did anyone ever try to flex on skaters?

For that McDonald’s, everything was gravy, dude. Now, there have been other McDonald’s… I remember going after one contest. We go in, one worker started talking shit, and Sheffey [started] talkin’ shit, like “Yeah what you gonna do when you get off?” And there was this dude Sonny Dukes — he was definitely before me, know what I mean? He would jump on the table, and jump in the bushes and shit. This is at a McDonalds out in Anne Arundel [Maryland].

Anyone run any scams in there?

We had hookups with the cashiers whenever we’d go up there. There was this one lady, Charmane, and she would just give us whatever we asked for, like all day, everyday. Also, we were hooked up with this Arlington [Virginia] McDonalds. We would only go there when they were closing, and they would give us all the food, bro.

Did you ever use is as a hideout or anything like that?

Yes — totally. We actually used to run up there and hide from the police [at Pulaski]. Then there was a phase when McDonald’s had a security guard, and he would chase us out, bro! He was this big dude, like “I don’t want no shit outta y’all.” So, one of us would do something, and he would be like “I told y’all!” Then we’d just take off running.

9 Comments

  1. What a time to be alive … no ones gonna mention quick check fries are Bomb.com ? Was quickcheck around back then ??

  2. Those Pulaski McDOnald’s employees really do talk a lot of shit; some characters for sure.

  3. The type of realness I expect from QS. There was a 2nd floor Chinese Buffet near Love Park that was good too. Nowhere near the fame and mystique of that Wawa


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