Photo by Riley Arthur

From the Editor: Photographer and journalist Riley Arthur (@dinersofnyc), who hails from American Samoa, has been documenting all of New York City’s diners, one by one, for the last two and a half years. So far, she has photographed 250 diners. A Fulbright Scholar and National Geographic Explorer, Arthur focuses on ethnographic storytelling, documenting under–represented communities with an interest in regional history and displacement caused by gentrification. We asked Arthur to share with us her project, along with ten diners in New York City that are now lost. The following are her words and photos.  

At one time, thousands of diners thrived in New York City. Skyrocketing rents, changing tastes, and gentrification have drastically reduced their numbers. Around three hundred remain. New York diners are immigrant success stories, with the majority owned by Greek immigrants. Diners are a part of American culinary and architectural history and they are a dynamic part of city’s fabric that is rapidly disappearing. Two and a half years ago, I set out to document the diners of the city. Through my research I discovered how swiftly these diners are closing.

Many New York City diners are landmarks, many more than sixty years old. Almost all are endangered. Equally disturbing, I found no one has been documenting this decline. This is the first time a photographer has attempted to document every one. I’ve now shot more than 250 diners in all five boroughs, over twenty have since closed. This project is a living archive and a historical one. It attempts to capture the architecture, communities, and culture around each diner. In addition to photographs, the project is collecting memorabilia, menus, interviews with the owners, profiles of patrons, and more.

Vegas Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

The Vegas Diner, located at 1619 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn was open for 35 years between 1982 and 2017. It closed when the owners retired.

East Side Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

Owner Nick Kaloudis brought in East Side Diner, located at 352 E 23rd Street next to Peter Cooper Village, after the prior diner East Side Café closed after 38 years. Kaloudis who comes from a diner-owning family, closed the diner after only two years, discovering he was responsible for $50,000 of back taxes owed by the prior diner. After taking the landlord Magnum Real Estate Group to court over the taxes he lost, he closed the restaurant. Kaloudis’ family members have purchased seventeen diners around New York City and have the tendency to flip them.

Cup ‘n Saucer

Photo by Riley Arthur

The Cup and Saucer was one of the last remaining diners in Chinatown, located at 89 Canal Street. It closed in 2017 after the landlord refused to resign a lease and raised the rent $15,000. The Cup and Saucer will live on in a year-long art installation from James and Karla Murray,  showing four Lower East Side business in life-size form, in Seward Park starting later this month.

Lyric Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

Lyric Diner, located at 283 3rd Avenue in Gramercy was closed in 2016 when owner George Kalogerakos retired. In 2018, Tivoli Café, a new diner opened in its location.

Broadway Restaurant

Photo by Riley Arthur

Th Broadway Restaurant, located at 2664 Broadway between 101st and 102nd Street was open for almost 50 years from 1970 to January 2018. It closed due to a fire.

Renaissance Restaurant

Photo by Riley Arthur

Renaissance Restaurant was located at 776 9th Avenue. When it closed, the block was flooded with funeral flowers placed at the entrance of the diner.

The Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

The Diner was located at 44 9th Avenue in the Meatpacking District, near The High Line. It closed after 12 years of operation in early 2017. It later became the restaurant Fatbird, which has also closed.

Deluxe Luncheonette

Photo by Riley Arthur

Deluxe Luncheonette was located at 2896 Broadway between 112th and 113th Street. It operated from 1999 to 2015, and then reopened shortly from 2015 to 2016. It was owned by two companies, Chef Driven and Tour de France NYC, which owns 17 restaurants in New York. The diner’s proximity to Columbia University made it a popular destination for students.

Foxy Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur 

A diner has occupied the location at 4311 Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside for many years. It was first the Crete Diner, then Foxy’s Diner from 2007 to 2018. It is currently under new ownership as Blvd Diner.

Georgia Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

After forty years operating the Georgia Diner at 80-26 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, Queens, owner Jimmy Kaloidis sold the property to a developer in 2018 to whom he also sold the adjoining parking lot three years before. The diner sold for $14.25 million according to city records.

Kaloidis combined the Georgia Diner with the Nevada Diner, which he also owns, and took many of his Georgia Diner staff to the new location.  He’s since rebranded the Nevada Diner to the Georgia Diner.

Market Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

The Market Diner, located at 572 11th Avenue was one of the last six remaining standalone diners in Manhattan. Built in the Googie architecture, it even had a parking lot. Frank Sinatra had a private back room he used to meet with the mob. Opened in 1962, it was closed in 2015 and demolished. The Market Diner is now a high rise apartment building. I had to climb a construction cone and lean my lens over the fence to get this shot. 

[Editor Note: You can see more photographs of The Market Diner when still open here on Untapped Cities]

Del Rio Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

Del Rio Diner was located at 166 Kings Highway in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for forty years. Owner Larry Georgeton has cited the minimum wage increased to $15/hour as the cause of the closure. Georgeton told BKLYNR at the time of closing: “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.”

Park Luncheonette

Photo by Riley Arthur

The Park Lunchenette, located at 332 Driggs Avenue next to McCarren Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was a diner for decades, before closing and lying vacant for years. Then was briefly turned into a bistro fro 2005 to 2009. It reopened in 2012 only to close again in November 2017.

Hanson’s Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

Hanson’s Diner, located at 13 Hanson Place, right next to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank was open between 1960 and 2018.

Dizzy’s on 5th

Photo by Riley Arthur

Dizzy’s on Fifth Avenue, located at 230 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn was open from 2012 to 2017. With the motto a “finer diner,” it was a popular bunch spot in the neighborhood. The restaurant closed so that owner Matheo Pisciotta could invest more money into his original location on 9th Avenue. It is currently home to the restaurant Shaking Crab.

Pom Pom Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

Pom Pom was located across the street from the Penthouse Executive Club at 610 11th Avenue. A lot of patrons at the club would eat at the diner. Pom Pom opened in 1969 and closed in 2016.

38th Street Diner

Photo by Riley Arthur

The 38th Street Diner, located at 32 W 38th Street off the Avenue of the Americas, was one of the few diners located in the Garment District.

See more of Riley Arthur’s work on her Instagram (@dinersofnyc) and her website. Next, check out 11 of the Last Standalone Diners in NYC.

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