For theater buffs and aspiring stars on Broadway, Ellen’s Stardust Diner is an icon, located on the corner of 51st and Broadway with its ’50s theme neon signage and subway car entrance. In between waiting tables, their very talented waitstaff take turns singing pop and show tunes, often standing on the narrow top of the booth seats. Sadly, the future of Ellen’s Stardust Diner is uncertain, another possible casualty in New York City’s dining and entertainment landscape in this pandemic. A letter dated July 16th, 2020 affixed to the door from the diner’s landlords states that if the rent owed in the amount of $618,459.22 is not paid back by August 7th, the diner will “surrender possession” of the premises and the landlord will proceed to recover the debt. The photo was first shared in a photo by a member of the Facebook group I Love NYC yesterday.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner has been closed since the onset of the pandemic and has not reopened. A worker told NBC that the staff, which numbers more than 200, last heard from the owners in April letting them know the diner would be closed longer than expected, but have heard nothing since.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner encompasses an enormous 9,515 square feet across the ground floor, mezzanine, and basement of 1650 Broadway. It opened in 1987 and has become a Theater District institution. As Untapped New York writer Lynn Lieberman wrote in 2014, the diner offered “those with talent and stardust in their eyes have a way to pay their rent on their way to the top—and sharpen their skills along the way.” Several times a day, a large bucket would be passed around for tips with a specific and dedicated use for one of three things: dance classes, singing lessons or acting classes for the waitstaff. Every year, the diner would “graduate” members of their staff to shows on Broadway.
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