Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Market Diner Returns

Last week, Urbanite discovered the long-anticipated reopening of the Market Diner on 11th Ave and 43rd St. Since the loss of the Moondance and the Cheyenne (which Chelsea Now reports may not make it to Red Hook after all), New York City's diner lovers have been waiting with baited breath for the Market to return.

Being a diner lover myself, I headed up there for a New Year's Day breakfast of challah French toast and bacon.

At first glance, I was disappointed to find the new owners had stripped the spectacular old neon sign and replaced it with something far less than spectacular. Here's what it looked like before:

photo by urbanprose

And here's how it looks today. I'm hoping that little ovoid bit is just a placeholder for something better yet to come:

photo from my flickr

Originally opened in 1962 and closed in 2006, the diner was beloved by Frank Sinatra and west-side gangsters alike. Its closure, wrote the Times, "left some neighbors crying in their egg creams, wondering who will rent the corner lot in Hell’s Kitchen, in a quickly evolving area with an increasing number of high-rise apartment buildings." In March 2008, the Times reported the Market would reopen--nothing less than a miracle in the insane real estate climate.

So I'm not complaining.

The exterior has been beautifully preserved and revitalized, with chocolate-brown eaves and polished chrome along the zigzag roof. The cream-colored stoneface around the foundation has also been kept and the entrance has been re-tiled in orange. The parking has been mostly replaced by an outdoor seating area.

photos from my flickr

The orange and brown color scheme continues inside, with pumpkin-colored booths trimmed in brown piping. Overall, the interior has been stripped and modernized. I've only been able to find a couple images of the Market's former interior:

photo: Sara Krulwich, NY Times

photo: NYC architecture

They've taken out the wavy bits over the counter, the striped tiles, and the attached swivel stools, for a streamlined, simplified look. It's clean and attractive, but not very interesting. Sort of "West Elm'd":

photo from my flickr

As for the French toast and bacon: Yum.


contrlfreq said...

great pics!

Marlie said...

looks like they tried to modernize the place with good intentions--sometimes that does not always work out for the best

Ken Mac said...

I salute the new Market Diner. The exterior is wonderfully restored, though it's weird, why did they butcher the sign. I took pics, went in. Very friendly, very shiny. And the blueberry pie? Hands down, the best I have ever had in any diner in New York. This is not the usual gummy crust crap most sell, it was excellent! Good job and welcome back! (Jimmy Coonan sends best wishes...)

Danny said...

Well said. It's not a bad renovation at all, in fact, it's pretty well done. Nice materials, clearly some thought. It's just a little...conservative. You wish they'd pushed the funky vibe a little more in one direction or another, rather than playing it safe. Still, it's a nice neighborhood diner- the food was right on and the service was friendly.

Alex in NYC said...

Fun fact: The basement of the diner actualy served as a nightclub for a clutch of years in the early 90s called "Big City Diner". I shit you not. I was dragged there once by a girl I was tenuously dating at the time. The musical fare was house music of the Technotronic/C+C Music Factory ilk. Bleeecchhh!

L'Emmerdeur said...

The approval of the person who managed this redesign should be required for every single development and renovation in New York.

Jeremiah Moss said...

hey ken, are you posting your pics?

Mark said...

its not a restoration in any way, shape or form. but i'm glad it's still there.

in the mid-70's, a friend who lived on West 38th Street off of
10th Avenue (the stories I could tell!) used to get high and come here for fried fish platters. I have no recollection as why, but it sure was fun!

Michael said...

Looks, schmooks, doesn't anyone care about the food? No one so far has mentioned. So how is it, by the way?

Alissa said...

It looks nice inside, but it doesn't look much like a diner. Isn't the whole point of diners that they are supposed to be a bit tacky looking?

Michael said...

Sorry Ken, I missed your comment on the blueberry pie. I'm headed uptown soon.


Ken Mac said...

Jeremiah, yes, I will be posting pics soon. Just wish they would trash those planters...

Sam said...

Yes, great pics. This blog is fantastic--it's like reading NYC's personal diary.