Open All Night

Intense conversations happen at 3 AM in front of a plate of cheese fries.

Big Daddy's, Gramercy Park, NYC

AMY ROSE: Twenty-four-hour diners have a certain magnetism for teenagers who are out all night, as you might know from your own three AM adventures. Anaheed, Lori, and I traversed the downtown New York City diner scene to document their younger patrons and, of course, their delicious FOOD, on film for you, with some brief interviews to accompany the pictures. We intended this feature to be a gorgeous photo album of what we observed. Unfortunately, there ended up being a few problems with this idea.

We all met up at the first location, raring to go. We ordered tons of coffee, made a plan of attack, and psyched ourselves up. Problem was, we couldn’t find many teenagers at the first two places we went (the figure being exactly zero at the second one, sigh).

After a hot tip from a friend, we were able to find tons of amazingly fascinating, hilarious, serious, silly, and occasionally wasted people at the third place: the new IHOP in the East Village in New York. We talked to all of them and took MOST of their pictures (more on that later). However, an otherwise-very-nice IHOP manager told us that we couldn’t take pictures in the restaurant. To us, this meant that we would continue doing so, but that I had to hide Anaheed’s camera in my lap a lot, plus play lookout really dramatically for the guy whenever she wanted to shoot. It turns out I’m a terrible lookout—I went to other tables and waved and SHOUTED, “ANAHEED!!!” whenever the guy came into my field of vision. Very subtle and cool, just like everything else I do, naturally. After this happened, the rest of the pictures didn’t come out so great, as you might expect.

But you know what? All told, we had an excellent time talking to a bunch of great characters, as well as to one another, for hours on end. Which, of course, is the real purpose of late-night diner excursions: at that hour, in front of a plate of cheese fries, the conversations are sometimes INTENSE, and sometimes have you falling out of your IHOP chair laughing.

Big Daddy's

The first place we went was Big Daddy’s, one of a chain of diners in Manhattan. Lori, Anaheed, and I met at the Gramercy Park location at midnight on a Friday night. Big Daddy’s is like a cartoon diner—lots of kitsch and “retro”-y accoutrements. It was more than a little reminiscent of Wowsville from Ghost World.

Our food

After ordering fries and coffee, we scouted out the two girls in a back booth:

12:34 AM
(19) and KIARA (23)

Ashley (left) and Kiara

LORI: What are you guys doing tonight? What brings you here?

ASHLEY: Just catching up with my girlfriend.

ANAHEED: And this is your girlfriend?

ASHLEY: That’s my girlfriend.

ANAHEED: How did you guys meet?

ASHLEY: High school. She was a senior, I was a freshman. We bumped into each other in a class.

KIARA: I’m very friendly. Overly friendly.

ANAHEED: So you made the first move?

KIARA: Yeah, like, “Hey, what’s up? What’s your name?”

ASHLEY: She’s a liar. She had great shoes, and I was like, “Your shoes are amazing.”

AMY ROSE: What did they look like?

ASHLEY: They were dark gray with a purple heel. She was just like, “Oh, thanks.” Then we sat next to each other and started talking, and here we are today, talking.

ANAHEED: How long ago was that?

KIARA: Four or five years ago.

ANAHEED: What’s your secret for making love last?

KIARA: Be honest, and have as much fun as you can. Always keep that other person happy.

1:08 AM
(18), JODELYNE (18), AND KAI (19)

AMY ROSE: What brings you guys here tonight?

RACHEL: We were at this karaoke bar. And we wanted some munchies after.

ANAHEED: What did you sing at karaoke?

KAI: I sang “Superbass.” Don’t judge me.

ANAHEED: Can you do the rap?

KAI: No, I can’t rap! We also did “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. We sang “Novocaine.” We sang “Party Rock Anthem” and another LMFAO song.

RACHEL: “Sexy and I Know It.”


ANAHEED: It’s 1:12 right now. What time are you supposed to be home?

KAI: Two o’clock, but I’m not going to be home till like four or five. I set my own curfew by just not coming home.

ANAHEED: Are you going to get in trouble when you go home?

KAI: My mom’s asleep, so I’ll just sneak in and sleep.

ANAHEED: Do you have a technique for sneaking in really quietly?

KAI: I take my shoes off at the door.

Kai's delicious food

ANAHEED: What about you, Jodelyne?

RACHEL: She’s kind of Cinderella.

JODELYNE: Yeah, I was supposed to be home at midnight.

ANAHEED: Is there anything that you guys want to say to the teenagers of America?

KAI: Teenagers, stay cool. And don’t be afraid to lose.

ANAHEED: Why not?

KAI: Because losing helps you learn how to win.

ANAHEED: That’s good!

JODELYNE: I don’t know, take more chances? I don’t, which is bad.

AMY ROSE: Why don’t you?

JODELYNE: I’m just scared of the consequences.

ANAHEED: Why don’t you take your own advice?

JODELYNE: That, I do a lot: I give advice and then I don’t take it. OK, fine, I will!

RACHEL: I guess for me it’d be, like, don’t be afraid of taking that chance, because you never know when you’ll find a good opportunity.

KAI: No. That was too cliché!

RACHEL: But for me that’s so relevant. If I didn’t take that chance, then I wouldn’t have found myself in the good situation I’m in now.

AMY ROSE: What chance did you take?

RACHEL: Living on my own. Moving away from my parents. That was definitely a big risk for me. It was like, I have to take on that financial toll myself now. I have to start paying my bills and all of these things. So it was kind of a big chance, and I didn’t know where it was going to take me, plus it put me on kind of bad terms with my parents, you know? Now I’m kind of working things out [with them].

ANAHEED: When did you move out?

RACHEL: Six months ago.

ANAHEED: Oh wow! That’s a scary step. What do you like about living alone?

RACHEL: It’s so much more freedom. The freedom is priceless, let me tell you. The downside is definitely having bills and more responsibility—that stuff is ridiculous. But things are going well for me, I can say that.

Rachel (left) and Jodelyne

ANAHEED: Anything else you want to tell our readers?

RACHEL: I don’t know. I feel like our generation is dying.

ANAHEED: What do you mean?

RACHEL: I feel like each generation is getting worse. Our generation doesn’t find new ways to be cool. They just find new ways to be stupid.

After finishing up at Big Daddy’s, we went to Veselka in the East Village, where we came across not one single solitary teenager. We did, however, run into a friend of Anaheed’s, who, even though he is like 40 years old, knew that IHOP was a much better bet for teen cruising. As such, we basically owe the rest of this article to him. Thank you, Todd, for being a 40-ish guy who knows where to find a plethora of teens at any given moment of the night! That’s not weird at all, and we love you for it.

2:13 AM

ANAHEED: So what brings you here at two o’clock in the morning?

ROMIS: I’m out with my sisters and friends.

AMY ROSE: Where were you guys before this?

ROMIS: At home, in the Bronx.

ANAHEED: And you came all the way to Manhattan to get something to eat?

ROMIS: Yeah, one of my sisters is visiting from Florida, and she really wanted to go to IHOP. So we drove here.

AMY ROSE: I like your ring! Is it an engagement ring?

ROMIS: No, it’s my birthstone.

ANAHEED: Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful! And it matches your necklace. And look at your nails! I’m jealous.


ROMIS: I’m the youngest of three sisters. I’m actually like the boy in the house. My sisters are girly girls.

ANAHEED: You’re pretty girly, with that jewelry and those nails.

ROMIS: I didn’t used to be. I’ve actually changed a lot.

AMY ROSE: What made you change?

ROMIS: I got a boyfriend.

ANAHEED: What’s his name?

ROMIS: José.

ANAHEED: Where does he live?

ROMIS: He’s in Queens. At the juvenile detention center at Rikers.

ANAHEED: Oh wow. How long has he been there?

ROMIS: Since July 2010.

AMY ROSE: Do you mind if we ask what he did?

ROMIS: It was a gun charge.

ANAHEED: Possession?

ROMIS: Yeah.

ANAHEED: Is that hard? Do you visit him a lot?

ROMIS: Well, before I’d go three visits a week, every week. Now I just go visit him on weekends.

ANAHEED: How’d you meet him?

ROMIS: At school. He was my best friend.

ANAHEED: How long were you guys best friends before it got romantic?

ROMIS: A year.

ANAHEED: Who made the first move?

ROMIS: He did. He gave me a kiss without me actually looking. It was like, I just turned my head, and then: oh!

ANAHEED: That’s so cute. How long have you been together?

ROMIS: Since March 25, 2008.

ANAHEED: So you guys were together for two years before he had to go to Rikers?

ROMIS: Yeah.

ANAHEED: Do you feel like he’s changed since he’s been in there?

ROMIS: Yeah. He got jealous. More jealous than he was.

ANAHEED: Do you think that while he’s in there, there are probably a lot of guys who find out their girlfriends are sleeping with other people, and so—

ROMIS: That’s the problem.

ANAHEED: It gets back to them.

ROMIS: That is the problem. He’s imagining that I might be tired of going over there. And he feels that I’m not getting what I should be getting.

ANAHEED: And how do you feel?

ROMIS: Nothing’s changed between me and him.

ANAHEED: But are you getting sick of it? Is some part of you like, I should be dating someone here on the outside?

ROMIS: No. I made a promise that I was gonna wait. And I’ll stick by my promise.

AMY ROSE: What does he say when he gets jealous? Does he get mad?

ROMIS: Yeah, he says he’s gonna let me go, because he feels I’m still young and I need to live my life. He feels I should have fun.

ANAHEED: And what do you say to him?

ROMIS: I tell him I’m not like other girls. I’m different. And that’s the reason why he fell in love with me. That’s what he likes. Me being me. So he can’t compare me to someone that I’m not.

This was when the lame-ass manager (actually, he was so nice besides this, but, you know, PASSIVE AGGRESSION) came over and made us stop taking pictures, so the ones that follow from here on out are going to be pretty bad, sorry. It couldn’t have happened with a worse trio, either—Monet, Sharaine, and DJ were seriously so pretty and done up. Monet was wearing wild multicolored eyeshadow and some crazy false lashes, Sharaine was all cleavage and red lips and braids, and DJ, a self-proclaimed Fashion Police officer, was wearing Minnie Mouse-ish polka dots. They ruled for lots of other reasons as well. They kept telling us that we should take a subway ride with them sometime to see how amazing their conversations are, and we really, really want to take them up on it. Here’s why:

3:09 AM
(19), SHARAINE (20), and DJ (19)

ANAHEED: You guys look awesome. Look at your eyelashes!

MONET: Listen. I’m girly. I’m verrrrry girly. If you met me like two years ago, I would never have all of this.

ANAHEED: What happened?

MONET: I don’t know. I just started wearing makeup.

ANAHEED: Was it hard to learn?

MONET: No, because you know what? I used YouTube videos. I like the ones where people really show us how to put it on. I literally watched one video five times.

SHARAINE: [Monet’s best friend]: Most of the time I can’t do my makeup or my hair for anything, so that’s why I have these two in my life.

ANAHEED: Who did your makeup tonight? It looks great.

SHARAINE: My sister [DJ] did my eyeshadow.

DJ: I do hair, makeup, dressing…I should be a stylist, right? I’m like my own little fashion police.

ANAHEED: If you’re the fashion police, what violations have you called your sister out on?

DJ: You do not want to get me started on that.

ANAHEED: What are her worst fashion crimes? I want to hear them.

DJ: I told her today that I didn’t like her earrings. I was like, “I think they’re like grandma earrings.”

ANAHEED: These ones? They’re cute. [For the record: Sharaine was wearing really pretty dangly earrings with geometric shapes embedded with rhinestones.]

DJ: They look like what grandmas wear when they go to a funeral. That’s what I think. So I told her!

ANAHEED: [To Sharaine] But you kept them on.

SHARAINE: I just bought these fucking earrings. And I think they’re freaking awesome. So I’m gonna wear them.

DJ: But not everything you buy should be worn! Or even bought, to begin with! I criticize everything—I don’t criticize; I give my honest opinion. Because at the end of the day, everyone is judging you when you leave.

MONET: Word.

Very blurry picture of Monet (left) and DJ that we snuck when the manager wasn't looking.

AMY ROSE: Do people get mad at you for sometimes being too honest?

DJ: I don’t keep a lot of friends, because I’m so straightforward. A lot of people can’t deal with my personality, because they don’t like what I say. I know that sometimes people can get hurt. Monet just laughs at me.

MONET: I know I’m fly! I don’t care what nobody say; I’m fly.


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  • Susann January 31st, 2012 3:05 PM

    I miss those times when my boyfriend and I were thrown out of McDonalds because they were closing at 1 AM, haha. Wish they were open all night!

  • Izzy January 31st, 2012 3:13 PM

    Ha, gosh, amazing!

  • Naomi Morris January 31st, 2012 3:15 PM

    well this is the best thing ever and i wish i could have come with you and i wish i could go to a diner right now

  • Georgie January 31st, 2012 3:18 PM

    Haha, these conversations are so funny. Wish we had IHOP here in Britain. Our pancakes are basically crepes and it sucks. No late-night whipped cream misadventures for us.

    • Naomi Morris January 31st, 2012 3:29 PM

      lets start a british 24-hour chippy revolution seeing as those might be our nearest equivalent

      • amyflorence14 February 18th, 2012 7:14 PM

        Totally supporting the 24hr chippy revolution!

  • moonchild January 31st, 2012 3:27 PM

    Oh god. this is amazing. I wish I lived in the city :l

  • Anna F. January 31st, 2012 3:31 PM

    Oh my gosh I was laughing so hard reading this I was crying. I wanna see the contents of that makeup bag!

    • Amy Rose February 1st, 2012 12:01 AM

      It was like a stockpile of all the best products out there. Amazing.

  • Laia January 31st, 2012 3:36 PM

    omg this is SO INCREDIBLE.

    also todd barry knowing where kids hang out is too hilarious for words.

  • cherrycola27 January 31st, 2012 3:40 PM

    These are all amazing. This last conversation is hilarious.
    I have to say, I have that same makeup bag that Monet has but I don’t even have NEARLY enough makeup to fill it. I mostly use it when I’m traveling.

  • RockHatesMiriam January 31st, 2012 3:45 PM

    There are not enough places open 24hrs in Britain, we’re sooo jealous!! Fab post though!

  • KayKay January 31st, 2012 3:52 PM

    Love these conversations! So funny!
    I wonder if someone recorded the conversations my friends and I have, if they’d turn out this weird :P
    What I love most about the article (and generally about Rookie), is that it’s so real. The people are real, their stories are real, their lives are real and they’re genuinely interesting people. They’re not like the totally fabricated individuals others try to sell to us, they’re people we can actually relate to, and people wish we could meet, without having to constantly remind ourselves that they’re famous and the chance of meeting them is 0.

    Now I feel like having pancakes…

  • Emma S. January 31st, 2012 4:00 PM

    Now I really need some french fries.

  • Juniper January 31st, 2012 4:19 PM

    This reminds me of that Murakami book After Dark,where the girl stays up all night at the Denny’s and has some awesome adventures.
    I love this article.

  • Cosmo Beatrix January 31st, 2012 4:28 PM

    such a good idea!!!

    i love this literally, DJ and Monet


    • Tavi January 31st, 2012 4:47 PM

      i think we should do! any suggestions?

      • annagracie January 31st, 2012 5:46 PM

        A roller derby bout! Literally the coolest, craziest, and quirkiest crowd. One of the greatest things I’ve ever been to.

        P.S. If you guys actually do this (which would be so cool), can i invite myself along to help? i’m friendly and non-threatening! Haha.

      • MissKnowItAll January 31st, 2012 6:25 PM

        At a flea market!!! I meet all sorts of awesome people whenever I go to the ones in Queens.

      • Ellie February 11th, 2012 12:56 AM

        A Chicago suburb! Ya know how they were talking about growing up somewhere else, we can have an EXPERIMENT and COMPARE and CONTRAST.
        No, not really, I just want to see if you guys go anywhere that I’ve been to or practically live…

  • Hazel January 31st, 2012 4:35 PM

    VAGINA DIARY? OMG! This is one of my favorite Rookie articles of all time! SO GOOD!!!

    • Anaheed January 31st, 2012 4:51 PM

      That should just be our name from now on.

  • Jessica Vixenelle January 31st, 2012 4:52 PM

    The conversation with Kai, Rachel, and Jodelyne is my favorite. I think this is my most favorite segment Rookie has ever done, and I hope this happens again– Rookie is my favorite ever, and it’s just things like these that remind us that hidden in freaking awesome places (even IHOP with strict managers?) there are the greatest people alive. We just need to find them.

    Okay, enough of the emotional vomit. But I just wanted to let you know how amazing you are.

  • Harriet January 31st, 2012 4:59 PM

    I’m sorry but this was literally the best article Rookie has ever posted ever. If I could marry it, I would.

  • MissKnowItAll January 31st, 2012 5:03 PM

    Haha Vagina diary. I met a couple at a 24 hour Arbys once and we had a weird conversation. We mostly talked about how their relationship was going nowhere and then about how the space landing was probably a hoax. You never know who you’ll meet at 3 in the morning.

  • merricat January 31st, 2012 5:03 PM

    Ha! First comment here. So glad I found Rookie. This article (and this months theme in general) is amazing! It’s currently 11 pm here, I’m going to stay up all night reading Rookie and watching movies but now I really wish there were any all-night diners around so I could go out.

  • Cirrelda Bee January 31st, 2012 5:32 PM

    This is brilliant!

    My hometown, Albuquerque, has this almost 24-hour restaurant/hang out called the Frontier, it serves cheap New Mexican food, burgers, the best fries!

    Everyone goes there, families, fucked up teenagers, dates, literally EVERYONE. Like, if you’re lonely late on a friday, all you gotta do is go to the frontier and you’re bound to run into someone you know.

    So this article is just so reminiscent of my times spent eating enchiladas at midnight and laughing with friends.

    so good!

  • Ruby B. January 31st, 2012 5:47 PM

    Aaaah, the last one!!! I LOVE this. Oh my god.

  • sedgwick January 31st, 2012 5:52 PM

    I have never hung out so late at night… i guess there is still time for me to accomplish this, still a few more teen years to go, but I’m not sure how much i want to, the last interview made me a little bit sad. The only thing open late at night in my city is McDonalds but I hate McDonalds and it’s not teenagers who hang out around there at night, it’s just dodgy adults. Do you think I’m missing out on something if I never am ‘up all night’? Is rebellion totally necessary to being a teenager? sometimes i worry about this stuff.

    • Rachael January 31st, 2012 8:21 PM

      I like my sleep too much to stay up that late. And I still had a very fulfilling teenagerhood despite my early nights. It can happen!

      Also, I too grew up in a town where nothing was open at night. Even as adults we all end up hanging out in each other’s backyards at our reunions because there’s nothing else to do, ha ha.

  • allyishere January 31st, 2012 6:43 PM

    the last kids sound really cool, I want to see a photo of them!

  • Emilie January 31st, 2012 6:50 PM

    this is the coolest thing ever

    • Emilie January 31st, 2012 6:51 PM

      are you guys gonna post more pictures, or were these the only ones you could post?

      • Anaheed January 31st, 2012 7:04 PM

        These are the only ones we could post, unfort.

  • fairy_grrrl January 31st, 2012 7:01 PM

    oh my gosh this is amazing

  • bedazzledbandannas January 31st, 2012 7:33 PM

    please please make this a regular segment! I loved it, wish there was an all-night place where I live. but seeing as we don’t have so much as a McDonalds, please keep posting so I can read about other people having fun! (while crying into my pillow in need of fast food.)

  • megantron January 31st, 2012 7:52 PM

    This article was awesome. I hope you guys get to repeat this feature in the future…I also love that you got to talk to teenagers who don’t seem like the stereotypical Rookie readers who comment here (white girls who have personal fashion blogs and love using Instagram on their iphones…Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just nice to see some variety!).

    Chain restaurants are definitely the best places to find teenagers at night. Although my friends and I aren’t teens anymore (and haven’t been for quite some time LOL), we still like to go mcdonalds on late nights to eat oreo mcflurries and talk shit about everyone we know. we always see tons of teenagers there when we go at night.

  • Pashupati January 31st, 2012 8:05 PM

    The only times I was up /outside/ all night was the night of the new year when I was 12 because I had been thrown out of the house and I just walked in parks and such, then last year to walk my dog at 2AM because I was too excited to sleep. (ah, and some nights during the RMLL because yeah)
    I wish we had these 24-hour places where I live… Maybe we do and I just don’t know? It would be nice to have a night job in some place like that, so I wouldn’t really have to deal with my sleep patterns until I de-unschool for college.
    Well, thanks to that article at least now I know where I can buy glittery lipstick!

  • poppunkgurrrlx January 31st, 2012 8:46 PM

    STEAK N SHAKE!!!!!!!!1

  • Mollie January 31st, 2012 8:48 PM

    I <3 Amnesia

  • youarebananas January 31st, 2012 8:52 PM

    hahahha i love this! i love the last group of kids! do this again in a diff city maybe? (COME TO PHILLY I LIVE HERE)

  • MissKnowItAll January 31st, 2012 9:05 PM

    Ha that last group of kids cracked me up.
    PS- The vagina monlogues?

  • Zatherine January 31st, 2012 9:43 PM

    These interviews reminded me of “After Dark” by Haruki Murakami and how perfect it would’ve been for this month’s theme.

  • Adrienne January 31st, 2012 10:04 PM

    Sharaine and Monet are so funny! They reminded me of my relationship with me and my sister hahaha.

    And the last group was hilarious.
    Man, I feel like teens here in Cali are so much different than NY teens.

  • Dick January 31st, 2012 10:42 PM

    Hahahahahaahaha! I’m so going to print this article and keep it forever and ever!!! May I (print this article out)?

    • Anaheed January 31st, 2012 11:11 PM

      Of course! You don’t need our permission for that.

  • Vic January 31st, 2012 11:19 PM

    WOW Anaheed you are such an excellent interviewer! Taking tips for my next project, for sure.

  • cherrycola27 February 1st, 2012 12:45 AM

    Whoa whoa whoa. Todd Barry? The comedian? I just got that! That just makes this so much better! I love him.

  • ButterscotchGumdrop February 1st, 2012 1:45 AM

    Literally the best thing ever.

  • Jenny February 1st, 2012 2:02 AM


  • insteadofanelephant February 1st, 2012 2:38 AM

    my life in a nutshell haha i made my friend steal one of the menus from our favorite 24-hour restaurant so i could hang it on my wall freshman year of college…i still have it!

    instead of an elephant

  • moll February 1st, 2012 12:57 PM

    This is so lovely, it upsets me greatly being English and living in a town with absolutely ZERO all night diners.

  • hazeleyedgirl February 1st, 2012 2:55 PM

    ‘Amnesia’ is the most hilarious thing. She must have been sooo out of it.

    I loved it when I visited America, because there were always 24h Waffle Houses and IHOPs etc. There is literally only one 24h place in my city, that I know of. Cafe Insomnia. God, their cheesy beans on toast is THE BEST THING.

  • Hedwig February 1st, 2012 9:50 PM

    I can see this becoming as quotable as mean girls

  • samhatt February 2nd, 2012 12:18 AM


  • Missy February 2nd, 2012 2:33 AM

    That last one KILLED me. Repeat, please.

  • karastarr32 February 3rd, 2012 3:25 AM

    I love this, surprised that you didn’t find more people at the diners though. In my home town of Boston, there’s this place called the South Street Diner, loads of nightclubbers go there, plus my dad’s kind of a photographer, hope you like his diner pictures: (there are more to come but they are currently living on his Mac Book/ iPhone)

  • Masby February 3rd, 2012 2:21 PM

    You should make this for every issue, like in different places/cities each time; you really should! =)
    I’m from a brazilian small town, so there was like 0 place ‘to eat’ opened all night when I was (oh, it hurs to say that, was…) a teen. Hollywood made me dream with hanging out late at night at a diner, and now you made it look like so much fun!

  • Molleeeeeee February 4th, 2012 7:33 PM


  • The Emma Edition February 5th, 2012 8:24 AM

    Eating late night Big Daddy’s is literally the essence of being an NYC teenager.

    I wish I knew you guys were going to be there!!

  • Billy February 17th, 2012 6:24 AM

    haha omg i go to big daddy’s all the time! that same location! I always go for the milkshakes theyre sO good

  • Toria Crux February 28th, 2012 4:03 PM

    Haha the last one was totally epic! I liked Li’l Art and Amnesia!!! Mmmmm…. pancakes!