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Nighthawks No More: N.Y.C. Diners Face an Uncertain Future

Diners are part of social and cultural landscape of New York City, but many are closing as owners contend with increasing development pressures.
May 29, 2019, 10am PDT | Camille Fink
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Diana Robinson

Stefanos Chen reports on the future of the iconic New York City diner, with one estimate suggesting about 13 are closing shop each year. "While their disappearance has been lamented for years, diners along the margins of Manhattan and in parts of other boroughs previously thought impervious to redevelopment are closing because of increasing rents and enticing offers that are hard to pass up."

In one case, owners of the Frontier Diner in Manhattan struck a deal with a developer to lease the land instead of selling it, reports Chen. Some owners are trying new strategies to survive and adapt to the times, such as diversifying menus and offering food delivery. 

Others say they will hold out as long as possible. Louis Gritsipis says he will not sell his diner, 42nd Street Pizza, located near the new Hudson Yards development. "He pays almost $70,000 in annual property taxes, while many of his new high-rise neighbors receive tax abatements. He has no desire to stop working, he said, and the cost of starting a new business would be too high, even if he were to sell the building," writes Chen.

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Published on Friday, May 24, 2019 in The New York Times
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