East Village red sauce restaurant John's of 12th Street doesn't have the flashy sex appeal of the new school of Italian cuisine rising to prominence in the city, but that's a compliment. The one hundred plus year-old eatery offers the same kind of menu found at almost every Italian American restaurant in this country, granted with a vegan side-menu that probably wouldn't find its way to, say, El Paso. What it does have, however, is a long history in an ever-evolving neighborhood; long-tenured, highly dedicated servers, chefs and other staff; and a new documentary about it all debuting this month.

Filmmaker Vanessa McDonnell premieres her documentary John's of 12th Street at Williamsburg's Spectacle beginning on November 12th. The film, which was shot over a month by McDonnell herself, chronicles day-to-day life for the back and front of house staff, many of whom have dedicated decades of their lives to the eatery. One such person: chef William "Rene" Heras, who's been at John's for 40 years, just 10 years less than his brother Victor. The "new guy" started five years ago.

From the looks of the trailer, this is a real warts-and-all kind of production; no dramatic flambe shots from the kitchen or debonair maitre d moves. Instead, McDonnell captures the natural ebb and flow of restaurant life, like downtime when the staff roughhouses and lets off steam, to moments where the kitchen is fully "in the weeds."

"The film eschews conventional interviews and narration, seeking instead to explore the small rituals of working life, the dichotomy between the kitchen staff and waiters, the restaurant as a center for social life and all of the unique, increasingly rare elements that make under-appreciated institutions like John's worth preserving and protecting." For service industry vets, it's a great exploration of the stresses and pleasures of restaurant life; for everyone else, a look inside a dying breed of old school eateries.

There's a bittersweet angle to the film and not just because there's "intermittent talk of a sale of the restaurant." Longtime owner Mike Alpert, who bought the restaurant with his business partner Nick Sitnycky in 1970, passed away after filming completed in 2013. Screenings include the World Premiere on November 12th at 10 p.m., with subsequent screenings on the 16th (7:30 p.m.), 22nd (10 p.m.), 28th (7:30 p.m.) and 30th (5 p.m.).

JOHN'S OF 12TH STREET (Vanessa McDonnell, 2014) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.