Steve Heller on the Empire Diner closing

I wrote about the changes coming to New York City’s famed Empire Diner back in a November 14, 2009 post (see… ) . Well the Empire served its last meal on Saturday May 15th. I really hope the new operators who are planning to change the name of the place do not destroy the classic looks and feel of this iconic diner. I was talking with my pal John Baeder yesterday and the Empire was brought up in the conversation.

John’s paintings of the Empire helped to make this diner into the icon it became and he sent along this piece written by his good friend Steve Heller (reprinted from May 17, 2010,…..

John Baeder’s first painting of the Empire Diner (courtesy, John Baeder)

The Empire Diner, a landmark of Manhattan’s Chelsea district (which is now home to gentrified art galleries, restaurants, clubs and parks) is no more. On Saturday, the famed eatery immortalized by John Baeder in the paintings above and below (top), closed its counter, forced out by rising commercial rents and rapacious commercial landlords. It has gone the way of another famed NYC heartburn heaven, The Second Avenue Deli, which although reestablished in a new locale, just isn’t the same. Loosing this establishment is truly a crying shame. So, let’s take a moment to bid adieu to and reflect on another victim of excessively rising costs in an age of wage freezes and unemployment.

John Baeder did this painting a few years later from an earlier image of the Empire Diner prior to it becoming one of the first upscale diners.
(courtesy, John Baeder)

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Audio Tribute to the Empire Diner being closed

Ron Dylewski has put together a great audio tribute on the closing of the Empire Diner. The story is a co-production of Ron’s and our friends at the terrific food-oriented site, (Thanks to Glenn Wells of Roadside Fans for the heads-up to the link)……
(To play the report, click “Listen” and then click the arrow to the left of the title “The end of an Empire by Ron Dylewski”)

3 thoughts on “Steve Heller on the Empire Diner closing

    • Florie, it may not be gone forever. let’s hope the new operators treat the building with the respect it deserves.

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