Monday, November 2, 2015

Last Meal at Market Diner


This weekend I had a last meal at the Market Diner, shuttered now and waiting for the Moinian Group's wrecking machines to flatten it, so yet another soul-murdering, high-rise luxury condo can rise.

Aren't there enough of those already? The place is surrounded by luxury towers. In fact, Moinian has another pair right across the avenue.

From the windows of the Market Diner you can watch "The Sky" rise, wrapped in the slogan: "Live the Sky Life." With 1,175 rental units, The Sky is currently the city's biggest residential tower, literally blotting out the actual sky. And right next to that is Moinian's massive Atelier condo tower. The 13-story tower to rise on Market Diner's grave will make it a trio.

These buildings are here because the city rezoned the far west side as part of the Special Hudson Yards District and the Special Clinton District. They're here because the city government wants them here.

Meanwhile, inside the diner, crowds of people jammed themselves into the vestibule, waiting 20 and 30 minutes for a table. Some had come to say goodbye on this last weekend, but most just loved eating here.

After this irreplaceable piece of the authentic New York is destroyed forever, we'll hear politicians and other development apologists trot out the hideous bullshit lines that "tastes change" and "some small businesses just aren't viable." But we'll know the truth. 

The Market Diner was always packed with customers. They closed because the Moinian Group bought them and shuttered them. They closed because City Hall allowed it. Because our government offers no protections for small businesses. They closed because New York is in the midst of a small business apocalypse--and a cultural genocide.

As Robert Sietsema wrote for Eater this weekend: "even with a liberal mayor, nothing is done to stop this sort of cultural and culinary depredation. Isn’t the mix of businesses in a neighborhood important? Do real estate developers have an absolute right to do anything with their properties, no matter how foul?"

Yes, apparently, they do.

The Market Diner was in business since 1962. Frank Sinatra ate there. It was gorgeous. It was unique. I've said it a million times already. For fuck's sake, #SaveNYC. Whatever's left of it.

Last Days of Market Diner
Market Diner Vanishing
Market Diner Renovation


Unknown said...

"tastes change"? the powers above tell people what to eat. destroy the restaurants so they have no say in the matter. the food looks wonderful, i mean lookED wonderful.

James said...

And another one down. Will the building be moved to Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania? We won't see it, in any case, should it even survive. Or it will become some garish reborn monument to old-line kitsch, safely ensconced within the new order.
I keep in my head memories of many New York diners (and delicatessens) I wish were still there. The list includes John's, on Broadway, next to the long-vanished Cinema Studio movie theater, where Juilliardites grabbed the quickest toast-eggs-and-coffee in the universe. One of my regrets is that I never tape-recorded the morning banter and the order calls in frantic NY dinerese. "Whaddya gonna' have, babe?" A lad coming from Ohio in the mid-80's, I learned that one could be called "babe" by both a waitress and a taxi dispatcher in the same day. The whole of John's block is now some giant thing that even the multi-story Barnes & Noble's couldn't survive in.
I still quietly mourn the Palladium Coffee Shop on East 53rd, near Madison. I once made a note that it had the freshest burgers I'd ever eaten at a diner. By 2005 it was ushered out for a high-rise. Imagine that. It's not so much the diner as the individual which is under attack. Individuals carry their own thoughts and dreams, and it is the apparent task of every conglomerate to make sure it can decide what those thoughts and dreams are, for the betterment of the board and bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Worked up the street for the 6 months this year. Market Diner was one of the few places to actually eat that wasn't unbelievably overpriced. Where will blue collar workers go for food? Beyond that where will we go to lay our heads at night as the city "progress" consumes our homes and renames them Luxury, Trendy, Hip, Urban, and Chic? as a life long New Yorker everyday my future in the only city I've ever known becomes bleaker. Thank you Jeremiah for keeping people like me aware of what we're losing. With every new post a flood of memories both legal and illegal that I've shared with childhood friends and my wife of 15 years come rushing back. Its a sad day when even walking by things that have been around for less than five years give me a sigh of relief.

BrooksNYC said...

Went Friday night and had dinner at the counter. After thanking the staff and wishing them well, I went home feeling sad and (not coincidentally) old.

I first set foot in the Market Diner 45 years ago after a night of dancing at The Sanctuary. The club — Manhattan's first gay dance club — was housed inside a German Baptist church (still standing) on West 43rd, opposite what is now Manhattan Plaza.

I loved that old city.

BrooksNYC said...

James, I'm so happy that someone else has fond memories of John's Coffee Shop! In the early '70s, my Juilliard classmates and I lived at John's. I can still picture the faces of the always effusive, kindhearted gals behind the counter — a brunette (Eileen?) and a redhead.

And the Cinema Studio! I'd forgotten about it till just now.

Caleo said...

I was only introduced to this diner in the early aughts by some guys I worked with in landscaping. We had some rooftop terraces to maintain on the west side and would eat here for lunch. Even then I was stunned that it had it's own parking lot. Great basic diner fare.
At this point I, and all the native New Yorkers I call friends, have resigned ourselves to enjoy the few shards left of a forgotten city as they will be gone soon enough.
I applaud any grassroots effort to stem the tide, but I honestly hold out no hope that the tsunami will recede until it has completely swallowed the whole of Manhattan and large swathes of Brooklyn and Queens. I can't imagine what this city will look like in 10 years.
We live in the age of Homo Economicus, and those with the most money get what they want.
They want a glass and steel outdoor mall filled with wealthy strivers like themselves, and they will see their vision realized sooner than we can believe.


Here are some shots of some vanished NYC diners photographed in the 90's...including the Market Diner :

Ken Mac said...

SONOFABITCH!! I didn't see this coming, though it was surrounded on all sides. This dead city no longer deserves places like this. FUCK IT

Unknown said...

Oh yes I would go there after work. I worked third shift as an executive secretary. I worked all over Manhattan and took the train from 198th to Queens Plaza then up the escalator to East 54th. When I left I was living in the boogie down Bronx. I've lived in all the cities along the east coast and they're all loosing the people that made those places iconic hell legendary rather than infamous. The smell, sounds, taste and that beat beneath the street. Only the true urbanite would know what I meant. That beat remains with you left with you when you were thrust inside the bossom of the concrete jungle.

We're watching the close of an era my friends. "Get it while you can." Because when we're all gone; so goes our essences with our belongings.

Goodbye and fare thee well