Actually, it was one of those elastic straps stretched between poles, like the ones at long check-in lines at airports, but the idea was the same, and it materialized in front of Bamn near the end of the opening party.
Bamn is, I believe, the first automat to exist in New York in about 20 years, and its opening party was tonight.
An automat is a sort of vending-machine-cum-restaurant. The food is behind little glass doors in cubby holes; you insert your coins, open a door and pull out your food. Cheap and convenient. It was the latest thing several decades ago.
The new incarnation is kind of Asian, with a Hawaiian accent. Behind some doors is Spam musubi, a delicacy from the islands that uses nori seaweed to tie fried, teriyaki-glazed spam to sushi rice (it's much, much better than it sounds). Teriyaki burgers and pork buns are available too, along with American fast food like chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, fried chicken wings and mozzarella sticks.
At the service counter are french fries (you can buy a $10 bucket) with a massive selection of sauces (I had salsa verde at the suggestion of the man behind the counter). Green tea soft serve is on hand, too. The food was all developed by Kevin Reilly, who currently is chef at Water Grill although I met him near the turn of the century during his ten-minute stint as the chef at Zoe, in Soho.
Most items cost about two bucks (change machines are on-site), but tonight everything was a quarter, and the quarters were provided by pretty young Asian women in tight-fitting, pink Bamn t-shirts and white pieces of cloth that approximated mini-skirts. But you needed to be somebody to get in, to the disappointment of many, many passersby. I don't think the elastic rope came out until CNN started filming, however.
Inside, I caught up with Nancy Davidson and Ted Lee, exchanged faux-kisses with Andrea Strong (real kisses are tacky when your mouth is full of teriburger), and was delighted to see the reaction of Jennifer Leuzzi, a Hawaiian, when Ted brought her the Spam musubi. Once she saw that shave ice also was available she declared Bamn to be the fall opening she was most excited about, although after some reflection she declared it number two, after l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.