It was a staple in New York.  There were multiple locations in Manhattan situated like lighthouses acting as beacons of light to hungry pups with limited cash flow.


Locals and travelers alike in need of a cheap bite could seek out Bill’s Gyros.  This establishment was a heaven send for a young man exploring the big apple.  You could get gyros, falafel sandwiches or souvlakis at a reasonable price.  There was a Bill’s Gyro across the street from Penn Station and one in Times Square.  There were at least four of them decorating midtown Manhattan.  They were holes in the wall and usually open 24 hours—or at least they were always open when I needed them.


This could be a pre-concert meal before catching the Dead at Madison Square Garden or a late night pit stop after catching a late night set of jazz at the Village Vanguard.  It was great to order one and then head up to Central Park for an afternoon lunch.  Hell, they were great in the train station, on the train or even walking down the street.


I don’t think I would have survived Manhattan in the late 80’s without Bill’s Gyros. They were delicious.  The mutton was always succulent.  The Tzatziki sauce was amazing.  Fresh tomatoes and lettuce were on board.  A little hot sauce would really hit the spot.  I became one of their disciples.  I proselytized and sought out converts.  I even managed to turn several friends onto Bill’s Gyros.


One inebriated outing featured quite a bit of smoke, drink and other forms of indulgence.  We grabbed some gyros from Bill’s and took them into a movie theatre to watch a bad horror movie that no one seems to remember.  Shortly thereafter, that friend always wanted to stop at Bill’s Gyros during any New York adventure.


Once I tried eating one in Penn Station.  There was a deprived looking character sitting across the row staring at me while I began to take out my food.  His eyes kept getting bigger and bigger.  He was practically salivating.  I only got 3 bites in before I decided to just give it to the guy.  If he ever got his life together, I hope he indulged in more gyros.


Now, all the Bill’s Gyros in Manhattan are long gone but I have a select group of friends who all remember.  We still talk about these places.  A $5 gyro in Manhattan means a lot to a 20 or 22 year old without a lot of discretionary income.  It got me through some lean years.  I read there’s a Bill’s Gyro in Atlantic City.  I don’t know if it’s any relation to the old New York Bill’s Gyro.  Maybe one day I’ll go check it out sometime just to see.  They insist you can’t go home again but Thomas Wolfe never said anything about going back to Bill’s Gyros again. 




Author's Notes/Comments: 

A lot of my early ventures to the Big Apple required a stop at Bill's Gyro.  That sandwich was amazing.  I can almost taste one now just thinking about it.  Those were some good times.

View georgeschaefer's Full Portfolio