NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, October 25, 2015, 6:53 PM
City diners are steadily dying off due to rising rents and food costs, according to a new report.
A generation ago there were 1,000 diners in the Big Apple but that number has dropped to 398, based on city Department of Health Records, Crain’s New York Business reported.
Recent closures include Soup Burg on the Upper East Side, Café Edison in midtown and El Greco Diner in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
“Every week it feels like there’s one less,” said Peter Fernandez, a vice president at Fresh & Tasty Baked Products who has been supplying diners with bread, muffins and cakes for 50 years.
The diner downfall is also tied to a proliferation of food carts.
The carts can sell a bacon-and-egg sandwich for $ 1.50 far cheaper than the $ 4.50 cost at diners, according to Dimitri Kafchitsas, a former diner owner who now serves as the chief executive of Pan Gregorian Enterprise, a group that negotiates cheaper services for 700 restaurants.
“Food carts are a problem,” Kafchitsas told Crains. “I love diners. They are a big part of my life. I want diners to survive. But it is difficult for a lot of them now.”
Many have been forced to close due to rising rents, industry experts said.
Manhattan retail rent has spiked by 39% on average over the past three years, according to the Real Estate Board of New York.
“Every day in the city they throw people out,” said Argyris “Archie” Dellaportas, who runs Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens.
Dellaportas, who moved to New York in 1972 at age 18 from the Greek Island of Cephalonia, runs the quaint eatery with a vast menu.
He bought the 160 seat greasy spoon in 1996 for $ 350,000 after years working in the industry at other similar locations. The Daily News named the spot New York’s best diner in 2001 and 2005 and it has been visited by celebrities like Tina Fey and the late James Gandolfini.
It generates about $ 3.6 million in annual revenue in part by getting customers in and out within 40 minutes, according to Dellaprtas. That has enabled the restaurant’s staff to serve approximately 5,000 customers each week.
Still, the family-run diner pays $ 25,000 in monthly rent. But the neighborhood spot has a long term lease and hopes to increase business with outdoor seating and additional up the bar offerings to its 18-page menu.