NY Times columnist’s gripe about $78 Newark Airport tab goes viral: ‘Keep drinking buddy’

2 min

130 shares, 191 points

A New Jersey restaurant is relishing the attention from a complaint that took off on the platform X this week.

New York Times columnist David Brooks, 62, raised eyebrows with a photo of a dinner at Newark Liberty International Airport that he says cost $78.

“This meal just cost me $78 at Newark Airport. This is why Americans think the economy is terrible,” Brooks wrote Wednesday on X alongside a photo of a burger, fries, and a honey-colored liquid on the rocks. 

The post landed 16 million views, as online food court judges demanded to know if the drink was whiskey, which might explain the hefty tab.

Commenters tried to hunt down where Brooks’ burger came from, with several guessing 1911 Smoke House BBQ, a Trenton, New Jersey, steakhouse that has a location at Newark’s Terminal A.

“We will probably do a David Brooks special thanks to all the publicity he’s given us,” 1911 owner Maurice Hallett told The Post. “It’ll be a cheeseburger and a double whiskey.”

Hallett guessed that in order to reach a $78 tab, Brooks would have had to have “two doubles.”

He said a double whiskey costs between $28 and $29.

Hallett explained that his menu items at the Newark airport are more expensive because the restaurant works in partnership with food travel company SSP America.

The Post reached out to reps for Brooks and the New York Times for comment.

Brooks raised eyebrows with a photo of a dinner at Newark Liberty International Airport that he says cost $78.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Meanwhile, the restaurant has fielded lots of calls about Brooks’ tweet and joked about it on its Facebook page.

“Looks like someone was knocking back some serious drinks — Bar tab was almost 80% and he’s complaining about the cost of his meal 🤔 keep drinking buddy — we get paid off everything,” reads the Thursday post.

Brooks’ tweet now includes reader context that reads: “Based on the similar table, glass, chair, sheet and cut of fries, this is the Smokehouse Restaurant in Newark Airport Terminal A. The burger and fries cost $17.”

One X user shared a menu from the restaurant Smokehouse where a burger costs under $18.
1911 Smoke House BBQ has a location at Newark’s Terminal A.

This is an image of a dining area at Newark.
A dining area at Newark airport.

X commenters have been quipping about the liquidity of Brooks’ tab.

“So $17 of food and $61 of booze?,” joked one.

“Rx $45 in Whiskey, tax and tip…,” tweeted another.

“It’s the mark up on alcohol, brother. Economy is solid for those moving spirits at the airport,” advised a third.

Brooks, who has been an opinion columnist for the Times since 2003, has yet to weigh in on the social media controversy on his channels.

Aside from commenting on the price of airport grub, Brooks is also a commentator on PBS NewsHour.

His books include “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There” and “The Road to Character.”

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130 shares, 191 points

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