Friday, July 21, 2017

The Fate of Diners in NYC

I love diners. Always have. I've dined at Per Se, Jean Georges, Nobu, and 11 Madison Park -- some of the fanciest restaurants in NYC -- but a good diner will always be my favorite place to eat in this town. If heaven had a restaurant, it would be a diner: phone book menus, big portions, refills, padded booths, you name it, I love everything about the taste and feel and vibe of diners. 

How can you not love a place that serves breakfast all day?

But like so many old-school institutions in NYC, places that provide comfort instead of glamour, diners are vanishing. They are being displaced, as is common now, by flashier "cafes" -- if they are being replaced at all (many are simply being closed down and replaced by retail stores). A great diner is like what NYC used to be -- affordable and inclusive -- and, as diners are pushed out by high rents and gentrification, they are replaced by what it's become -- expensive and exclusive. There are still some diners in NYC here and there but, more and more, they are becoming curiosities of the past, not stable parts of our present. As the current President might Tweet, "Sad!"
The withering of diners in NYC has not gone unnoticed. Grubstreet recently published an article and WNYC recently had a segment about the vanishing diners of NYC.  

And this is not a recent development. Back in 2007, in 2007, during the first months of this blog, I noted that the old Moondance Diner on lower 6th Avenue had been sold and literally moved out to a small town in Wyoming (this is the same diner where Jonathan Larson, creator of the musical Rent, used to work). I worked right near the Moondance in 2007 and I remember seeing this once thriving diner close, get uprooted out of the ground, and disappear. (Now some fancy building with an expensive restaurant exists there.) Anyway, I did a little research on what happened to the Moondance in its Western incarnation and it appears that it closed in 2012 and went up for sale. I can't find any more info about whether or not it was ever bought for the $300K asking price so, if you have any further info on the fate of this NYC institution, let me know! 

As for some of my favorite diner in NYC: the Neptune in Astoria. It's right on the corner of Astoria Boulevard, right after the Grand Central, next to the N/W train station. Everything about it's great: the location, the layout, you can always get a table, the service is great, the portions are big, and it's open 24 hours. It's still there and, for the ultimate NYC diner experience, the best place to go. 

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