Doc's little Gem was more of an experience than great food. IMO, the North Side (now Little Italy) had better food at their diners - even late at night. But there was a certain authenticity to the place that catered to the late night, trucker, blue collar crowd, with it's location in an industrial area.
If the Inner Harbor project ever really had gotten off the ground, the Little Gem would've thrived. But that never happened, then the smoking ban - which kept away the regular crowd, leaving only weekends and late night. And, as I said, much competition in that arena, as well - especially as some food joints in the Armory District stayed open late to feed the hungry boozers.
The last meal I had there was fine. The smoking ban was already in effect, so the place was super clean - which was shocking. I had never seen it sparkle so much. There was nothing wrong with our breakfast other than the portion sizes were smaller than the old days, and the prices were up a bit. But, it's not like my stomach was empty - plus, after living in DC for 9 years, the prices were still cheaper than here. So I wasn't complaining.
Still, food-wise, it had nothing on Serpico's and Stella's on the North Side, Mom's Diner on Wescott, Nick's Place in Hanover Square (the best diner food in Syr, IMO) and suburban stallwarts like the B'ville Diner in Baldwinsville.
But that old car had some charm, as did the staff - even the gruff ones. So, a certain piece of Syracuse history has closed. Maybe someone will buy it and re-open it - with a new direction for the next generation who appreciate eating home-spun food in the art deco car.
In case there's confusion, The Miss Syracuse Diner, on Water St, is still open for breakfast and lunch. The open again, closed again, etc., etc., Miss Syracuse Diner has been open under new owners since last year. The Bixler diner has been serving Syracuse since 1939.