I found an article by Murray Schumach in the New York Times that talks about the decline in New York's cafeterias. It was written in 1969 - which is interesting to note because it means problems started for the cafeteria business quite early on. It also means Dubrow's survived the decline for a decade and a half, much longer than others in the city. Schumach writes:
"Affluence has already cannibalized more than two-thirds of those mirrored citadels that became symbols of the city and transferred the tempo of the subway to the stomach." (New York Times, August 18, 1969)
He goes on to quote customers and the owners of the Governor Cafeteria and the Belmore Cafeteria before talking about Dubrow's:
"And at Dubrow's, an equally successful cafeteria at Seventh Ave and 38th Street, the owner, Irwin Dubrow, grandson of the founder of the business, says: "A cafeterial can't pass along increased prices and wages the way other eating places do. A couple years ago we raised our price of coffee from 10 cents to 15. We were only doing what everybody else was doing. But we lost 1,500 customers a day and we still haven't gotten them all back."" (Ibid.)
He goes on to reference two Hector's Cafeterias, Garfield's, Dixon's, the King's Highway Dubrow's, the 167th Street Cafeteria, and the Concord as other currently surviving but struggling cafeterias. He doesn't reference the Eastern Parkway Dubrow's - I don't know if this means it had closed by now, or what.
He also interviews a customer in the Manhattan Dubrow's later in the article, and mentions Leo Martin, who came up earlier on this blog because his obituary mentioned working at Dubrow's:
"One recent afternoon, in the Manhattan Dubrow's, Charles Abbott, a salesman, was asked as he sat squeezed at a table among two strangers, why he liked cafeterias. He replied, "You get out quick. The price is right. And with such an output, you never get a stale sandwich."
Leo Martin, an executive at the cafeteria, says that a study showed that during the lunch hour the average customer was out in 19 minutes. At The Governor, the calculations show that...each of the 426 seats is turned over seven times between noon and 2 PM." (Ibid)
What's interesting about this is that it contradicts some of what readers have shared about liking so much about Dubrow's - the ability to "plunk down a quarter for a cup of coffee and sit all day" as my great-aunt Marian said.