Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Cafe 3 AM

The ambience of the off-hours
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There's a particular feel to an all-night diner at the time of night when it's the only thing open. A sort of wired-yet-casual vibe. It's quiet. The staff are more relaxed than they are during the day. Only one or two other tables are occupied, by weirdos like yourself (because who would be at a diner at that hour who isn't a weirdo?), reading a folded-over newspaper as they stir their coffee. Maybe someone is mopping the floor. It's a magical time.

Even the food seems more special. Since it's neither the time for dinner nor the time for breakfast, all foods are equally inappropriate and therefore anything is possible.

I'd like to see a restaurant that has that feel all the time, even during the lunch rush. It would have to be carefully engineered. All sunlight would have to be blocked out. Patrons would have to be seated in such a way that you could see a maximum of two other occupied tables from any point, and the sound of other conversation would have to be baffled. And, of course, the floor would be mopped 24 hours a day.

baf, Nov 04 2000

After Hours http://us.imdb.com/Title?0088680
A film that has this exact quirky quality to it all the way through [mwburden, Nov 04 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Fred 62 http://losangeles.c....com/profile/52360/
Went there twice - used to live a very very short walk away when the rest of L.A. discovered I lived there - they declared Los Feliz to be the Epicenter of Cool [thumbwax, Jan 05 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

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       I agree. The first step, I think, is to get some cafes in my area to stay open until 11:00 pm -- then we'll work on midnight, and so on. I wish there was someplace to go late at night when I get bored with home or just am too wired to go back home. But that ambiance during the day would be nice too.
badoingdoing, Nov 04 2000
  

       A few of my friends like to call that ambience : being stoned.
Detly, Nov 04 2000
  

       Good link waugsqueke.
  

       Cafe 3AM is more to do with ambience than mind affecting drugs, though the effect can be simulated. At that time of night the pressures off and there's no rush to do anything so people are more polite and friendly. Plus, with less people about, your personal space isn't constantly under attack. Also, there's not a lot of background noise so sounds like the clinking of coffee cups seem a lot clearer.   

       Try being rich. You can get a remarkably similar experience by sitting in the middle of your huge estate with servants on standby, at a discrete distance of course, to fulfill your every whim.
DrBob, Nov 10 2000
  

       I think it's also 'cause it's a 'forbidden' type of thing... you should be in bed, really... and, as baf said, it's not time for -any- meal... It's also about being on the cusp of the day, in limbo...
I was only joking about the stoned bit :)
  

       Hey - maybe if the whole restaurant was also permeated by some very low frequency/subsonic sound, ala. the flashy cinemas. That would feel wierd.
Detly, Nov 11 2000
  

       Yeah, that is a SO cool occurrence. I used to be able to find it easily, 24 hours a day, if I just sought out a place that was run-down and out of favor. A friend and I used to go to a place called Strick's, where the hostess had no teeth. She would come up to the table and tell us that the special of the day was "Mwah musha bwahbwhah shusha mush wawawa!", and we would try to appear impressed and agreeable while safely opting to not have that.   

       Anyway, at first we were amazed at the quality and quantity of the servings, especially for the very modest price. Then we realized this was just really not good math, and the place went under.
Bumpy, Nov 11 2000
  

       I'm from Canada, and this experience is one of the most memorable of our RV trips down to the southern states. Not exactly cafes, but some of the truckstop restaurants had this sort of feeling when we'd roll in around 2-4am. One of the things I liked to do was order a breakfast meal --- usually the cook wasn't used to making it, and it came out in a funny way. Sort of like the time I ordered a cheese and mushroom omelete. I got a cheese omelete, with whole mushrooms and cheese on the side. Different, but a good kind of different.   

       For the travelling type of 3am cafe, I think everyone but you should be from out of town, that way, you're sort of the "different guy" in a sea of strangers who would know each other better than they know you.   

       One of the diners I remember best was one where the eatery was made out of an old streetcar... can't quite remember where it was, though.
Wes, Feb 02 2001
  

       I think this is a very poetic idea.   

       My experience with 3AM eating has usually been a 24 hour restaurant where there were lots of college children around.   

       There are not very many restaurants open that late in Japan, other than bars.
Vance, Feb 08 2001
  

       You'd need the right music for sure, e.g.   

       1) Chopin Nocturne No. 2, Op. 15 in F-Sharp 2) JS Bach, BWV 1068, Suite 3, Air (prominently featured in the movie "After Hours") 3) Beethoven, Sonata 14, Op. 27 in C-Sharp Minor (Moonlight), 1st Mvmt   

       What else?
a_passmoore, Jan 05 2002
  

       Fred 62 in Los Feliz, CA - laaaaaaid back service - so laid back, youll wonder if they forgot you asked for a menu
thumbwax, Jan 05 2002
  

       I'd rather go for that late night midweek, back room of a bar atmosphere, when there's not that many people in, mostly weird-looking, everyone's drunk, but not in a angry, aggressive way, because these are people who're out drinking at 3am on a weekday all the time, and they've got nothing to prove. Just lolling round, sitting on tables and window-ledges, talking crap, and putting appropriate tracks on the jukebox (classic punk and alt-rock tracks: Buzzcocks, Nirvana, The Cure, Iggy; chilled hip-hop and quirky dance like Basement Jaxx, Chemical Brothers.) Trouble is, there's not many (if any) places like this around where I am, as it's a fine balance between too empty and too full, and they're probably not making a lot of money.
pottedstu, Jan 05 2002
  

       a_passmoore]: I was thinking more along the lines of Brahms Valse No. 15
bristolz, Jan 05 2002
  

       one of my fav sites http://dinercity.com/
grnidlady, Jan 07 2002
  

       [thumbwax]: I've been to that place myself. My friend, who lives a short walk away, took me. It's okay late at night.
snarfyguy, Jan 09 2002
  

       Yes, there is already a place like Cafe 3AM where you can get a noon lunch without all that glaring sunlight and without all those noisy people: In jail.
blainez, Mar 12 2002
  


 

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