by Kevin Walsh

In July 2016 I made my way to the Del Rio Diner, Kings Highway and West 12th Street, having heard of its impending closure. NYC’s classic diners have been shutting down, one after the other, for about a decade as high rents, the costs of huge menus, and owners’ retirement all take their toll.

The Del Rio boasted a Spanish Colonial style, which the old Americana in Bay Ridge (7th Avenue and 65th Street) also used. In 2016 the diner closed after exactly 40 years, though its owner, Larry Georgeton, still operates the Vegas Diner on 86th Street in Bensonhurst with his son.

Business at Del Rio has slowed considerably over the years as demographics shifted and the cost of labor and food skyrocketed.

“The economy is not for this kind of business model anymore,” said Larry. “I love my customers, and I don’t want to hurt them with the menu. They are hardworking, middle class people here — bus drivers, postmen, teachers — they don’t want to pay $9-$10 for a hamburger, so I said, let’s go out on top.”

Scenes from the 2007 comedy film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and an episode of the television show Blacklist were both filmed at the diner. Del Rio tables have seen Major League baseball player [the late] Joe Pepitone as well as comedian Jackie Mason, who brought with him an entourage of six. “He stopped at every single table,” Larry said of the humorist.

Larry fondly recalls Del Rio during Bensonhurst’s disco era, when John Travolta-wannabes packed the diner after hours each weekend.

 “You had to be here Friday and Saturday night, it was killer. We use to get all the clubs,” said Larry. “It was like a fashion show; with the girls, and the guys were all three-piece suits.” Bensonhurst Bean

I judge a diner by its burgers and the Del Rio’s was excellent, medium cooked was melt in your mouth. The fries were a mix of meaty and crispy, with skins left on. Terrific stuff. Why don’t people like diner food anymore? Tell me why diner culture is disappearing in Comments.

I strolled past the site just a few months ago [in 2022] and the Del Rio site remains an empty lot after nearly seven years.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



chris May 19, 2023 - 4:43 am

The only thing I can think of is competition from fast food.
And now Dunky Doughny has gotten into the breakfast act too.

Joe Fliel May 19, 2023 - 9:57 pm

DD’s been dong breakfast stuff for years.

redstaterefugee May 20, 2023 - 10:32 am

DD’s sandwich menu items are just as good at lunchtime too, especially now that DD is featuring a new line of “refreshers” which are terrific combinations of lemonade & fruit juices or iced tea & fruit juices. Great low-cost satisfying lunches.

Alvin May 19, 2023 - 4:55 am

In a Google search, the Vegas Diner on 86th Street has been closed for 6 years now.

JM May 19, 2023 - 6:52 am

I loved going to Del Rio dinner, it was one of the many dinners that were numerous on the 1970’s through the early 2000’s and went to most of them. The Del Rio along with the El Greco in sheepshead bay were the ones we went to most often.

Emily Marcellus May 19, 2023 - 7:37 am

I could cry reading this as I was there at its Grand opening and have such great memories eating there with family and friends. Larry was a great guy.

Mike of Bensonhurst May 19, 2023 - 9:00 am

The Del Rio was a “go to” for a lot of people in the Bensonhurst/Gravesend area. The food was good and the service was always on point, In my younger years this was a spot to go to after you hit the Bay Ridge bars, and as I got older I took my wife and kids. As Kevin mentioned, as of today it’s still a hole in the ground. I’m not sure what holding the construction up.

Christopher May 19, 2023 - 9:52 am

The photo is from Vegas Diner not Del Rio. Vegas is also closed, sadly.

Kevin Walsh May 19, 2023 - 11:05 pm


William Mangahas May 19, 2023 - 5:34 pm

We’re losing our long time institutions that brought us great memories of our lives. They are not being replaced.

Gil May 20, 2023 - 9:29 am

The food is less trendy. People are into more brunchy type spots now and diners seem dated. Having said that I’m glad to see the New Three star open up on avenue u. The food is excellent. We also order from parkview. The burgers are fantastic. I miss Kings Plaza diner the most.

Anonymous May 20, 2023 - 10:09 am

The neighborhood is 90% Chinese now. They don’t go to diners.

Seth Bogdanove May 21, 2023 - 10:08 am

When I moved into the neighborhood in the mid 1990s, we had the Petrina Diner (Now a CVS) on 18th Avenue and New Utrecht, Vegas on 86th and 16th Avenue, the Richelieu on 86th between 20th and 21st Aves (my personal favorite) and the Del Rio on Kings Avenue and W. 12th (great seafood) Now there’s only Mike’s on 86th and Bay 8th Street (Great breakfasts) and the Parkside on Cropsey next to Stop & Shop (waste of space and mediocre food at best. I miss my diners!

V. Beech May 22, 2023 - 9:22 am

Raised in Queens , NY , and had lots of friends from that area in Brooklyn. Went to St. John’s U. in Jamaica Estates when it still only educated day students. what strikes me best about these posts is the fact that the diner was open AFTER the club scene. I now live in the Boston area. Trying to fine a place to get a bite to eat after 10 pm is almost impossible ; maybe in Chinatown, but who wants to go all the way down into Boston , not find a place to park, and not get a bacon cheese burger??? Not me. It’s gotten a bit better over the last 25 yrs or so, but, living in Queens in 1960 , I could go to the Elmwood Theatre near Queens Blve, leave the show at , say 10:30pm, cross Queens Blvd and go to the Omaha Dinner for whatever. the hell I wanted. I love New York. Even Brooklyn!

Mike of Bensonhurst May 22, 2023 - 11:25 am

We do have Vinny’s Lunchbox on Avenue U, between West 6th & 7th. It’s a breakfast and lunch spot that I believe is open until 5. Food is great.

Adam May 28, 2023 - 10:23 am

Noticing that a childhood favorite of mine, The Arch Diner on Flatlands has also closed down recently


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