An epidemic of Diner closings

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the ancient mariner
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2007/12/05 19:02:12 (permalink)

An epidemic of Diner closings

One of the best diners in the Bronx/Westchester area is closing.
I started eating at the Thruway Diner in 1963 and have been there at least 100 times. The food was fantastic and because of it's location---the intersection of I-95 (the New England Thruway) and Route 1 (The famous Boston Post Rd)it was always busy 24/7 ----------

It was a place for anyone going from NY through Connecticut heading north or east---there you could fill up for the day---next meal in Boston. It was where I met clients, and contractors and old friends. Everyone in the Bronx, Westchester and points northeast knew of the Thruway. But according to the paper it will soon be a Walgrens Drug Store. Those drug dealers must make a mint. In place of a great diner we now get what we needed----A Walgren or CVS. In Huntington (my old home town) Mai Ting---a wonderful Irish Pub is now a CVS.

Owning a diner or any restaurant is a tough business and it must take a terrible toll on owner's lives.

The neighborhood people of Pelham and New Rochelle (as the song says---just 45 minutes from Broadway), truckers and builders all raised cain when they heard the news---but to no avail, the dastardly deed is done.

The epidemic continues. We are doomed !!!!!
#1

25 Replies Related Threads

    cecif
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/05 19:06:50 (permalink)
    I saw the posts on the diner in Plainfield (IN? was it?)...
    and fyi I have yet to go check but the Salem Diner (RF review by Michael) was supposed to close last week probably for renovations, but definitely due to new ownership.

    I'll keep an eye on it.

    Isn't it sad that these places close when there are so many around that do so well, originals and fakes too?!?!?!
    #2
    UncleVic
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/05 22:33:13 (permalink)
    I hear ya Ancient Mariner.. Instead of a home baked pie crafted locally, given away for Christmas, one should just give out CVS, Walgreens, Olive Garden or one of them other foo foo chain gift certificates. Better yet, a gift certificate to the local grocery stores frozen food section! Probably get better taste and selection there...
    #3
    ellen4641
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/05 22:50:20 (permalink)
    A good diner closing down for a Walgreens?!?

    That's very distateful news.

    So disenchanting. Same with the Irish pub change-over

    (and I bet there is already a CVS right around the corner)

    Speaking of gift certificates, we get a $50.00 gift card for the holidays from the casino I work at.
    I was a little sluggish picking mine up , and they were already out of the Wal Mart one.
    (Ended up having to take the Macy's one.) I thought at least I could always buy toilet paper and tissues with the Wal Mart one !!!

    #4
    Twinwillow
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/05 23:45:06 (permalink)
    In Dallas, the situation is even worse. Because here, diners don't ever close.They just, never open.
    I would give almost anything to see a really good NY, PA, or NJ. style (Greek owned) diner open in Dallas.
    Damn! I miss the diners I frequented as a young man growing up in NY. Diners epitomize the essence of true American food. Something that can never be imitated anywhere in the world. It's unfortunate that this iconic symbol of American culinary excellence is going the way of the Dodo bird. To my East coast brethren, enjoy them while you can.
    #5
    David_NYC
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/05 23:56:48 (permalink)
    It is worse than that, Ellen. There is a CVS that is the right next door to the Thru-Way diner on the Weyman Avenue side of the diner property.

    Going to the local phone company's directory website, superpages.com, tells the story. If you look up the listings for both CVS and Thru-Way and then map it with a bird's eye view, you will see they are on contiguous parcels of land. You can even see the CVS sign! Notice that the diner has a huge parking lot.

    I had to laugh that the Mariner called them drug dealers. I think they make more money than the average Bronx drug pusher. Of course, they are making a fortune on prescriptions, many funded by health insurance. I'm sure others here are more qualified than I am to discuss why these drug chain are all expanding like crazy.
    #6
    Twinwillow
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 00:05:32 (permalink)
    In Dallas, if it's not a (newly opened) CVS or Walgreen's on every corner, it's a bank. After 20 years in the same location, we recently had to move our retail store to a new location because our (greedy) landlord wouldn't renew our lease so he could sign a 30 year lease with Chase bank to build a new branch at our old location.
    #7
    seafarer john
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 09:03:13 (permalink)
    You should read about the Munson Diner opening in Liberty, NY in today's NYT Metro section. Some old-time Manhattanites might remember the Munson Diner - I was never in the diner, but I used to see it from the West Side Highway - it was a landmark we looked for going south on that noisesome road.

    Cheers, John
    #8
    Ashphalt
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 09:37:03 (permalink)
    That is sad news about the ThruWay. It's certainly a 20th Century institution. Is there any chance someone will rescue the building as they did with the Munson?*

    I thought we had a close call recently. Driving by the Town Square Diner in Norwood, Mass. during the Summer I noticed it looked boarded over. But instead of a demo it got a pretty little facelift saving and rejuvenating the old sign! Here's a picture I found on Flickr.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pkeleher/2051528646/

    Now that it's been re-done I hope Zippy makes another visit!

    *Addendum - I'm sure there aren't nearly enough chain drug marts on the Boston Post Road now. I'm reminded of a friend from Fairfield County whose Mom, in the 1970's, proposed an organization called "Arsonists for the Beautification of the Post Road."
    #9
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 09:56:12 (permalink)
    It is amazing, isn't it? CVS is right there and now Walgrens is moving in-----
    there is something fishy about the whole business. Get Hillary in here to
    start an investigation --we are being inundated by the pill pushers of the world.

    Twinwillow--you are right---banks are popping up like crab grass. If the subprime
    business is hurting everyone else why not the people who started it all---the banks?
    In St Petersburg we have a bank on every corner and I can walk to two Bank of Americas.
    Only trouble is I can't get any help in either because I don't understand Spanish,
    and I forgot my pin # or something.

    Wait a minute Salty John----you mean to tell me something new is opening up in Liberty.
    Last time I was in that neighborhood--Monticello, Liberty, etc. they were closing not
    opening. What has changed ??? Has gambling come to the Catskills ??? Speaking of
    which I stopped at Yonkers Race Way the other night to hear an old friend's orchestra
    (band) playing in the lounge----the music of Glenn Miller, TD, BG, Frankie,etc. etc.
    I found that the whole place is filled with slot machines. There must have been a
    thousand or more. It is really sinful---this country is going down the tubes pretty
    quickly now. Stand back or you will be sucked in. We are being surrounded by drug
    dealers and gambling joints and banks making phony loans so we can frequent those
    places instead of diners.
    #10
    amini1
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 11:02:31 (permalink)
    I've eaten at the Munson Diner quite a few times. They made one of the best sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches in New York. I was sad to drive by one day and see it closed.

    The local diner in the Poconos where I grew up recently changed hands and went through a complete renovation. It's better than ever. I'm actually surprised it didn't go under but there's really not many places to eat. CVS bought a restaurant down the road that had been around for many years and did a great business. They're opening a super CVS(groceries, etc.), trying to put the family run grocery store across the street out of business. Very sad.

    Down here in Houston the only things that seem to open are fast food joints, banks and CVS/Walgreens. You can literally see from one Walgreens to the other...less than 1/2 mile away. Do we really need that many drug stores and banks?

    As for Dallas, I agree it's sad there aren't any Northeast diner type places. We used to eat at a place called Lucky's on Oak Lawn. It was the closest we could find to diner breakfasts...not in theme but in taste.
    #11
    Ashphalt
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 11:11:22 (permalink)
    There's more than one bank???!!! " />

    Does Bank of America know this?
    #12
    cecif
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 11:56:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Ashphalt

    There's more than one bank???!!! " />

    Does Bank of America know this?


    Speaking of chains...!!!! BofA *used* to be a nice, friendly, not-very-big bank in San Francisco. It was my dad's first employer after college and he was very happy there. When they opened a branch in my town my parents were thrilled and I banked there my whole life, everyone knew all the tellers & managers, etc.

    Little by little they bought small CA banks and grew and grew... til one day THEY got bought by a Bigger Bank (was it Nationsbank in the midwest?) who also gobbled up the old east coast banks (in Boston they swallowed BankBoston which had swallowed First Bank of Boston who had become Bank of Boston then was eaten by BayBank and etc etc, and then Fleet swallowed them and then BofA swallowed Fleet... I probably missed one in there).

    Anyway, the Bigger Bank that ate BofA used the name (no brainer I suppose)... and now it's the Big Mean Huge Corporate Bank (that it never was when A.P. Giannini founded it as the Bank of Italy in San Francisco...). Interestingly, the first credit card - now "Visa" was originally issued by BofA as a BankAmericard.

    Happily I now bank with a little local bank where I know the tellers & managers and they know me and I get great service! Yay!

    And now I have taken this way way waaaayyy off-topic!

    #13
    Twinwillow
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 13:14:05 (permalink)
    Before we get back to the original topic, I would like to add, for the last 20 years of our business, we have banked with a very small local bank with only a few branches in the Dallas area. Inwood National Bank is a bank that says, hello when I come in and, goodbye when I leave. Most of the (longtime) employee's know me by name and, all value my business. They even throw a "customer appreciation day" BBQ once a year in their parking lot.
    Damn good BBQ too! There is a popcorn wagon popping fresh popcorn in their lobby every Friday and always lots of candy jars on the counters. My loan officer always covers my (sometime) overdraft checks-without a charge!
    And never charges me when I have to cancel a check every now and then. And, they are always very competitive with their loan interest rates.
    Now, this is a bank that truly deserves mine, and everyone else's business.

    And now, back to the original topic.................
    #14
    CookieMonster84
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 14:22:42 (permalink)
    Diners have been the best cure for a hangover for decades...whats going wrong now -- are people not getting drunk anymore?? i doubt it...but i guess they look for the quick fix instead of the leisurely diner breakfast...arg.
    #15
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 15:10:43 (permalink)
    Dear Cookie Monster you have stirred up some tough memories. As a "yoot" I always connected diners with fried eggs and hash browns and lots of coffee at about 3 in the morning. I lived in Lake Ronkonkoma a summer resort
    7 miles from the Smithtown Diner, and if that road had been monitered by the cops in those days there would have been lots of DUI guys in the clink. One car after another followed each other to the diner. Some didn't quite make it. Some may be still on the road.
    #16
    Twinwillow
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 17:42:50 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by the ancient mariner

    Dear Cookie Monster you have stirred up some tough memories. As a "yoot" I always connected diners with fried eggs and hash browns and lots of coffee at about 3 in the morning. I lived in Lake Ronkonkoma a summer resort
    7 miles from the Smithtown Diner, and if that road had been monitered by the cops in those days there would have been lots of DUI guys in the clink. One car after another followed each other to the diner. Some didn't quite make it. Some may be still on the road.


    Mariner, are you old enough to remember the Lake Grove School near Smithtown?
    I attended school there in 1949-1951. I have been to the Smithtown diner.
    #17
    Ashphalt
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/06 18:37:47 (permalink)
    My diner memories go back before my drinking days. We travelled a lot when I was a kid and diners were my Dad's eating destination of choice. I think the first near-sentence out of my mouth was "hamburger, french fries and Coke."

    Even close to home a day with Dad usually included lunch at Ernie's diner in South Providence. It was the place the local Army recruitment station took their victims for their last meal. It was there that I discovered the coveted meatball sandwich, while my Dad would get a lamb sandwich, basically braised shank meat on a sub roll.

    Imagine my surprise and delight when I later learned that some diners were indeed open after dark and were delightful places for eggs and sausage and fluorescent lighting after the local roadhouse was emptied.
    #18
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 10:20:49 (permalink)
    Twinwillow---I do indeed remember the Lake Grove School----as a matter of fact I remember a family of red headed kids who went there. One, or more, of whom was on Broadway in the play Life With Father. Growing up in Lake Ronkonkoma---hey that sounds like I was a fish, let me change that ----We lived in Lake---no that sounds just as bad---well anyhow I knew the Lake Grove school when I was young man.

    I designed a lot of fancy work for a gentleman who made a fortune ---he owned Seeberg (or Seeburg) the jute box gismos that were at every table in a diner. Sit down and flip through the sheets of records (45's I think) and drop a nickle into the slot. It was a great way to spend the minutes while you waited for that greasy burger.
    Greasy and flat and fryed on the griddle. A slice of raw onion and some ketchup made it a gourmet dinner. Or,instead of listening to the Platters you could have been mooning over some blond haired, blue eyes lovely creature sitting opposite you. Diners were the "Greatest".

    During my working years I liked to sit at the counter where I could talk with the short order cook. How those guys could understand the orders hollered at them and then not forget what went on what and who got what really amazed me.
    "BLT, white toast, extra mayo." "Scramble two light." "Fry 2 over easy". ---Great guys those short order cooks.
    #19
    Jimeats
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 11:38:29 (permalink)
    It's a shame about the dissapearing diners, but it's a sign of the times.
    Corporate dinning rooms, healthier life styles, the automobile, and the number of people who work at home have all led to their demise.
    Diners that exist today are more of a destination rather than convience type spot. Diners of yesteryear were for the most part located close to factorys and mills and catered to that work force.
    I can even remember that they wern't even opened on weekends, today that's their busiest days, Sat. and Sun.
    Roadside diners replaced taverns and stage stops, now it's food courts that have replaced the diner. And time marches on. Chow Jim
    #20
    Sundancer7
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 12:12:58 (permalink)
    In regards to the CVS, Walgreens and Riteaids, many of them have closed down. I have the real estate portion of CVS and I have 360 of their sites that have closed. Since the square feet meet our requirments, I have leased many of them along with the rest all across the USA.

    Some go down and another takes their place.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #21
    the ancient mariner
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 12:33:44 (permalink)
    Paul & Jim,

    Re: CVS---Is it just a hit and miss situation with those people. They spend a ton of money setting them up based on expected revenue I assume. How can they afford to build and stock their stores and then have 360 closings? Is their research department that bad ???? What do you put into those empty CVS buildings ??

    Jim I remember diners being closed on weekends too. Many of them even closed at 7 pm as soon as the local factories. etc. closed for the day and the stragglers who stopped in for a bite left. You are right it is a different world, but unfortunately not a better one. My sister-in-law's parents owned a diner and every one of the 5 kids worked in it as soon as they were able to say----More Coffee, Sir? Their old diner is now a chinese restaurant. Only the name and menu changed. Stuffed cabbage became egg rolls.






    #22
    Sundancer7
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 12:53:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by the ancient mariner

    Paul & Jim,

    Re: CVS---Is it just a hit and miss situation with those people. They spend a ton of money setting them up based on expected revenue I assume. How can they afford to build and stock their stores and then have 360 closings? Is their research department that bad ???? What do you put into those empty CVS buildings ??

    Jim I remember diners being closed on weekends too. Many of them even closed at 7 pm as soon as the local factories. etc. closed for the day and the stragglers who stopped in for a bite left. You are right it is a different world, but unfortunately not a better one. My sister-in-law's parents owned a diner and every one of the 5 kids worked in it as soon as they were able to say----More Coffee, Sir? Their old diner is now a chinese restaurant. Only the name and menu changed. Stuffed cabbage became egg rolls.




    Ancient Mariner. No big secret, I found their web site regarding their real estate division. They have to divest of those locations somehow and that is how they do it.

    We get some pretty good bargains as property they have paid $20 PSF for many years, they are hung with it. We get it for about half of that. They are anxious to divest the property..

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #23
    David_NYC
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 15:28:35 (permalink)
    Are these recent closings, or are they related to CVS purchasing southern Eckerd's from JC Penney in 2004? Up here right now, we see some closings after Rite Aid bought northern Eckerd's from Brooks Drugs. They are closing one store if both stores were at the same intersection.
    #24
    allyk
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 15:45:07 (permalink)
    Yep, here in Milledgeville, GA, it's a new Walgreen's: just what we need: another chain drug store! Luckily, the restaurant that was pushed out to make room for it reopened downtown. But it isn't across the street from my home anymore! Shame!
    #25
    Voyageur
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    RE: An epidemic of Diner closings 2007/12/07 15:51:17 (permalink)
    quote:
    Corporate dinning rooms, healthier life styles, the automobile, and the number of people who work at home have all led to their demise.


    I don't agree in part. Americans eat out and take out more than ever.

    You mention healthier life styles and that may be a big factor, along with other changes in the American diet.

    Many diner owners seem trapped in a time warp. The owners utterly ignore trends in low carbs, thumb their noses that those who don't want fried foods, wouldn't stoop to serve a vegan, and on and on.

    There's a wonderful roadfood place in OK City that really does it right called Classen Grill: http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=3512&RefID=3606

    You can have traditional "triple bypass" specials like its biscuits debris, but also many healthy choices of salads, fresh OJ, a vegan pasta, etc., etc. It also knows that most Americans these days like spicier choices like its Mexican egg scramble.

    Moreover, unlike so many diners, it controls food costs by having a more limited menu, not seemingly the 100's of items of the diner nearest me. There's no way that they're accurately tracking food costs or keeping all that absolutely fresh.




    #26
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