A Campaign to Save the Disappearing Diner.

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“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

It’s been forty-five years since Joni Mitchell first sang that fateful line on her hit track Big Yellow Taxi, but her words continue to ring out to this day. That line has been repeated, and repeated, and repeated over the years but for as straightforward as her sentiment may be, we’re still struggling to grasp the song’s message. This is especially true here in New York, where more and more so-called institutions of the city seem to be disappearing by the day. And no industry seems to be both more at risk, and more revered than restaurants.

At this point, it seems as if any restaurant that’s been around for more than five years, doesn’t serve some blogger approved, Instagram-ready menu of avant garde delicacies, and/or hasn’t found their niche food fad yet, is endanger of shuttering at a moments notice. And in turn, each “we’re closing” announcement is met by a chorus of complaints, and groans, and claims that New York is over. Inevitably though a week passes, and we all forget about it. We bounce back to whatever “hot new restaurant” is peaking that week, or to our favorite dollar slice spot, depending on our particular palette preferences. And honestly, when was the last time any of us ate at Soup Burg, or Cafe Edison, or El Greco or Odessa?

Often we only patronize these places once their fate has already been sealed, in a last ditch effort to say “yup, I was there.” But for the proprietors of these beloved, yet under frequented establishments, that is simply not enough. Starting today, I’d like to propose a different approach. Instead of waiting around for the death rattle of yet another classic New York establishment, why don’t we all actually make an effort to keep these businesses afloat. Let’s start with diners. Once a staple of this fast-paced city, New York’s greasy spoon numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate. Diner food is rarely exceptional, but it’s never going to let you down. There’s an innate comfort that comes from eating no-frills food in a place that hasn’t been renovated since well before you were born.

So, get out there and order some corned beef stacked on rye, or a bowl of Chicken Noodle so packed with pasta it’ll make the broth seem like a mere afterthought, or maybe even a hamburger that you don’t have to wait two hours for. I don’t care what you order, just do your part, and help to keep those griddles hot, those surly waiters employed, and those spoons as greasy as ever.

Waverly

Waverly Restaurant – 385 6th Ave. at Waverly Pl., Greenwich Village

Toms

Tom’s – 782 Washington Ave. at Sterling Pl., Crown Heights

Eisenbergs

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop – 174 5th Ave. at West 22nd St., Flatiron

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Joe Jr. – 167 3rd Ave. at 16th St., Gramercy

TomsR

Tom’s Restaurant – 2880 Broadway at West 112th St., UWS

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Stage – 128 2nd Ave. at Saint Marks Pl., East Village

Viand

Viand Coffee Shop – 673 Madison at 61st St., UES

Square

Square Diner – 33 Leonard St. at West Broadway, Tribeca

Manhattan3

Manhattan Three Decker – 695 Manhattan Ave. at Norman Ave., Greenpoint

CupSauce

Cup & Saucer – 89 Canal St. at Eldridge St., Lower East Side

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Stop Inn – 60-22 Roosevelt Ave. at 61st St., Woodside

BHD

B&H Dairy – 127 Second Ave. at St. Marks Place, East Village

LABon

La Bonbonniere – 28 8th Ave. at West 12th St., West Village


Comments on “A Campaign to Save the Disappearing Diner.

    Mike V.on January 28, 2015 @ 6:02 PM:

    You wouldn’t think one would have to champion the diner – it’s everything for everyone.
    A place you don’t even have to look at the menu – “club sandwich, fries and an iced tea”. We all have a favorite.
    Where we live in San Diego and the go-to diner for us is Rudfords. Been there since the 50’s, and it’s our fun place for late night after concert eating, and the last few years – late night Christmas eve.

    Mark Chouon January 28, 2015 @ 6:08 PM:

    Viand was a favorite back when I worked at Ralph Lauren! These days, it’s Landmark Diner at 158 Grand in Soho.

    zyxwvutsron January 28, 2015 @ 9:08 PM:
    Jeffryon January 29, 2015 @ 1:18 AM:

    Honorable mention:
    Olympic Restaurant on 115 Delancey St.

    Apparently it’s closed now. Such a shame.

    Jimon January 30, 2015 @ 11:05 AM:

    Diners live(d) for regulars. You’re a regular if you eat there at least 3 times a week. Their longevity used to rely mostly on blue collar shift workers and single business men. Is it a healthy lifestyle? Depends on what your go-to meal is, obviously. Nice article.

    Davidon January 30, 2015 @ 4:04 PM:

    I love diners. I always try to eat in one when I can.

    cateon February 1, 2015 @ 9:53 AM:

    Love this list. Thanks for the reminder. The two Tom’s and Viand are absolutely fantastic. And packed!!!

    Steveon February 1, 2015 @ 8:46 PM:

    Isn’t Tom’s the diner from Seinfeld’s?

Comments are closed.