Thursday, August 8, 2013

University Diner Update

There's been busy activity at the former University Restaurant space, empty since the 60-year-old diner was evicted last September. What's moving in? The guy next door said, "It's some kind of international cookie place, like some kind of place that sells cookies and candies and stuff. Like chocolate. And cookies. Stuff like that."

We need more? We don't have enough fro-yo, ice cream, chocolate, cupcake, cronut, yum-yum, nom-nom places to placate one's inner child already?


What we do need is another diner--as street petitioner Margaret once asked for, "one that is low-key (soft lighting), affordable, with the same welcoming, friendly feeling."

I can guarantee you, the international cookie and candy place won't be any of those things. And great conversations like this definitely won't be happening there.


Previously:
Save Our Diner
University Diner Closing


17 comments:

Ellen Fagan said...

Oh, for crap's sake, of COURSE it's gonna be another pricey kiddie-food emporium. I, too, had many a stirring conversation here & miss the place dearly. Turns out I met my friend Vera there the day before they closed, with no knowledge that this was about to happen. The service remained cheery, the food hearty, the conversation lively. Crying shame, once again...

4aslongas said...

I'm so with you on all of this, I can't even say. It astonishes me. People who come her now have no idea of how creative, complex, independent, diverse, inspired, etc., New York City was. I'm not even nostalgic about it anymore -- in Soho, Tribeca, West Village, all places I used to live. These places barely resonate the "soul" they used to have. It's gone. I only know because I remember because I was there. What did Baudelaire write in "The Swan"...no human heart changes half so fast as a city's face. But who would have imagined destruction like this? It's like we were bombed - not by atoms but with money. Decimated.

bella said...

I moved to NYC from the midwest for many reasons... most of which are gone now just 5 years later. Everywhere I look I see chains... the same chain crap I moved away from.

As for another sugary confection haven... interesting how Bloomy is STILL fighting the giant sugary soda ban but allows all these confectioneries to open up. Ridiculous.

When I moved to NYC, I said I could never imagine myself not living here for the rest of my life. Time to re-evaluate.

Dawn DeLuca said...

That rent = many many cookies!! Sad loved and miss the University D...

Betsy Israel said...

Not to sound (too much) like my NYC grandmother, 99, nor my NYC mom, 75, but I never NEVER contemplated the possibility that diners would face extinction. Other long-gone cheap-eats species (tea rooms, cafeterias, automats) had obsolescence built into their genetic code (tea rooms/schrafft's thrived in a white gloved ladies' era, when single women needed special places to eat in peace; the automats thrived on a gimmick that became an encumbrance and, like cafeterias, were so big, so open and structureless, that in the 60s-'70s they became less a place for office workers, artists, et al., but early homeless shelters). But diners/coffee shops have forever offered Everything to Everyone and in a setting that is democratic and also very organized. True, the food's generally not great past, say, page five of the ten-page menu, the coffee's generally dreadful--and these are obvious factors in diners' seeming decline (outside of the rents payable only by chains). But. And this is A Big But. No other type of restaurant--no chain--makes you feel so instantly safe and comfortable. Few places allow endless hanging out. Nothing anywhere else is that cheap and you can always find something good. (You just have to study.) Diners are neighborhood focal points, fixtures in a way that the four nearby starbucks, Panera, even pain quotidienne (which I really like) will never be. It's not what they're about. The University Diner was a great place, always packed, as was Joe Jr's and all the others now squeezed out. It's just a very different city when there's suddenly no non-bar that's just there for you at 4 a.m., if you need it. And that's something everyone in NYC needs.

Kyle Campion said...

Unreal.

Another 'double the price - half the quality' Manhattan specialty store.

Ironically, it will probably be viewed as an "only in New York" kind of establishment by each successive wave of NYU freshman invading the village - except the only unique aspect of these places are that they're insanely expensive.

Go to any true outerborough neighborhood and you're bound to find a number of such stores that don't try to be cute and offer reasonably priced, delicious food.

What a shame.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure what that C. Quinn's lackey, D. Berrios would say, is that this what rich New Yorkers and tourists want. Where is (s)he now anyway. Hiding Quinnberg's skirt now that (s)he's been called out?

Gojira said...

How come our dear mayor isn't up in arms about real food and service establishments going out and nothing but purveyors of sugary crap and empty calories are coming in? And how is it that everyone in this city is not already a diabetic?

Anonymous said...

because our mayor is not, nor has he ever been, a New Yorker. he's an interloper who gets out of town as often as he can on his private jet. lay you odds that his mansion goes on the market within one year of his leaving office.

Kyle Campion said...

Betsy,

Great post.

You're 100% spot on. Some of my favorite moments from college (in NC, not NY) were at random hole in the wall diners or Waffle Houses (yes, a chain but somehow full of personality and character). The beauty of those places were that they would attract such diverse crowds - people leaving a wedding party dressed to the 9's, college students and a variety of wandering souls. The conversations were always great and there was this air of "openess", if you will, that you simply can't replicate at any of these new establishments.

This is not to say that there's something wrong with all of these new "high end" places - there's a place for them - but when everyone is trying to be something it usually means that none of them are. Unfortunately, few seem to notice and our city/culture get more watered down by the day.

In the meantime, lets send business to those diners that are still operating before its too late.

bowery boy said...

Cookies are for tourists! And Bloomberg wanted to fund the City from sources other than Wall St, so the tourist biz became his mission. Now, we have more tourists than ever, and they want cookies and fro yo. We no longer have a City for the residents, but a City for outsiders who save up their money to spend it here. NYC is more and more a city of boardwalk strips. Figuratively, this will eventually devolve into water-gun/clown's mouth storefronts, and then to shoot-the-freak stalls. Only then, we politicians care so little that we'll get our City back.

laura said...

no politician cares about small businesses. as for food, i thought it was pretty good in there. most diners have normal real food. so what are the choices? where will people go for breakfast? no mcdonalds for me. what about you?

laura said...

one would assume that many residents would order in from that diner. yes, that includes professionals, those who are also wealthy. people bring thier work home w/them, want to have a sandwich & a coffee. not everyone wants to sit in a 4 star restaurant after work. (so many have power lunches, that evenings are solo). they dont want to pick up fast food either. there were many diners in the w.50s. my uncle had an apt on 55th & 6th, it was used for when in town for serious business. there was a diner downstairs, he ordered breakfast by phone. this place was packed from 8am to 7pm. "ordering in" is like room service, it is necessary. possibly there wasnt enough traffic @ university diner? i cant imagine trends changing that much. there are so many business people in NYC, who need decent takeouts.

Knicks4Life said...

Born and raised in NYC. Left the city for good in 94', reluctantly. Came close to moving back a couple of times but circumstances forced me to change my plans.

After almost 20 years away from the city and missing it terribly, I don't want to go back anymore. Not even for a visit. Its like they're turning New York City into the Epcot version of itself.

I understand that cities change over time but some things usually remain that give the city its character. I see the character of this city being bled dry by Wall Street, Bloomberg, developers, and wealthy foreigners

I have to thank this great site for opening my eyes to what's being done to what used to be the greatest city in the world.

I want to thank Jeremiah for the great work he's done over the years and I will keep visiting so I can remember what New York was like back in the day.

Anonymous said...

...I'm close to installing a booth with a small jukebox in our apartment. That way, I can make the diner food we feel like eating (using healthy ingredients?!) and have a modicum of the atmosphere. Maybe?

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? A cookie place? lol...I wish they left it as a diner but with new owners. I miss that diner so much. NYC is so commercialized now.

(I love this blog by the way) There is nothing unique about NYC anymore hipsters and yuppies ruined the city...

Grand St. said...

You should check out the joint that just opened up, - 'Gunz European Fine Food.' Looks like a fucking duty-free shop inside.