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Is New York City's diner culture dying?

Manhattan has long been known for its diners. Even people who have never lived or visited here likely know the infamous Monk's Cafe from the classic show Seinfeld. However, this year has seen the demise of a number of diners, some of them classics, that have been in business for decades.

There are about half as many diners in New York City as there were just two decades ago, according to the city's health department. Cafe Edison, which had been a favorite of many in the Broadway community for 34 years, closed in 2014. Market Diner in Hell's Kitchen closed after half a century in 2015. Gramercy's Lyric Diner closed this year.

New York diners hold a special place, particularly for older people, in a city where personal connections are often few and far between. They're also an epicenter of New York's immigrant community, with owners and employees from throughout the world. Most of the surviving diners are owned by Greek-Americans.

These staples of New York culture have been the victims of increasing rents, gentrification, changing dining tastes and the advent of Starbucks on seemingly every corner, where it's easy to stop in for a cup of coffee on the way to work.

Manhattan has been the borough with the majority of diner closing in recent years. However, that doesn't mean that other boroughs are immune from the phenomenon. Diners in Brooklyn and Queens could be in danger. Brooklyn's Del Rio diner closed last year after 40 years in business.

New York commercial real estate developers need to keep up with our city's ever-changing trends as they decide in which properties to invest in. Legal, financial and planning professionals can all offer valuable guidance.

Source: New York Times, "More Than Coffee: New York’s Vanishing Diner Culture," George Blecher, Nov. 23, 2016

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