The Market Diner, manufactured by the De Raffele Diner Company and opened at 11th Avenue and West 43rd Street in 1964, closes at the end of the business day on Sunday, November 1st, 2015. The Market rented its space from a real estate company called the Moinian Group, which had purchased the plot in 2004 but until now had not had the capital ready to build what it wanted all along: a 13-story mixed use building. Thus, the Market Diner has been evicted.
The Market was the last of three diners in operation on 11th Avenue in recent history; the River Diner at 11th and West 37th, where John Lennon once posed for a photo, left the scene about 20 years ago, while the Munson Diner at 11th and West 49th, where scenes from the Seinfeld show were filmed, was uprooted and moved to the upstate town of Liberty, NY in 2005, but after reopening there in 2007, it could not find a clientele and closed there, as well, in 2011.
A similar fate befell two other classic NYC diners, the Cheyenne at 9th and West 33rd (which I considered a virtual FNY office) and the Moondance, at 6th Avenue and Grand Street. The Cheyenne, with help from NYC preservationist Michael Perlman was purchased, packed up and moved to Birmingham, AL, where it awaits restoration, while the Moondance was moved to LaBarge, WY, where it failed to find an audience. Meanwhile, the famed Victory Diner in Dongan Hills, Staten Island, was moved to a position near the South Beach boardwalk — where it was ripe for predation by Hurricane Sandy. Its future is also unclear.
Other diners have adapted to the modern market. Both the Relish Diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the Empire Diner in Chelsea have made a go of it with upscale, more expensive menus; but word has come that the Relish, now a branch of Spanish restaurant La Esquina, is itself closing so the owner can build a residential tower.
However, there are survival stories in Manhattan, at least. The Square Diner, in existence in Tribeca since the 1920s, still is doing well (though it closes at 4 PM on Sunday). Tom’s, on Broadway and West 112th, whose exterior was filmed for Seinfeld and which inspired a hit record by Suzanne Vega, still draws healthy crowds. The Bellaire and the Neptune, both in Astoria, are rated among the city’s best.
Sheepshead Bay’s El Greco vanished some years ago, as well as the Tiffany in Bay Ridge. The Bronx is doing its part as the Riverdale, Royal Coach in Pelham Gardens, Pelham Bay Diner, and George’s in Middletown are going strong. The Bronx may have more intact classic diners left of all the boroughs.
The Scobee of Little Neck, Queens, another one of my “offices” closed in 2010, though the shell was left standing for 4 years after that. Its cousins along Northern Boulevard, the Bayside, Landmark (Great Neck) and Seven Seas (Port Washington) are enduring.
Diners are where friends meet. I have closed down several diners in NYC now. With me for my first and last visit to the Market were Vinny, Angela and DeeAnne.
The Abandoned Luncheonette [FNY, 1999]
Nothing Could Be Finer: A Look at NYC Diners [FNY, 2001]
Marvelous Night for the Moondance [FNY, 2007]
Nothing Bright About It: Death of a Diner [FNY, 2007]
Al Deppe’s of Staten Island [FNY, 2008]