Palace Diner will close doors at end of month

TimesLedger Newspapers

The Palace Diner, one of the last bastions of greasy-spoon fare in Queensboro Hill, will be closing Dec. 30 after nearly four decades of serving the community.

The Main Street institution, located off the Long Island Expressway, will soon become an upscale Chinese restaurant and will leave longtime patrons, politicians and civic associations without a hangout.

“It is a catastrophe for the community,” said Myra Baird Herce, past president of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce and a well-known leader in the community. “I never ever saw such a reaction from people.”

The diner at 60-15 Main St. served as an accessible, after-church brunch spot and ladies’ night out for the ageing population of Queensboro Hill, who stopped driving years ago, according to Baird Herce.

It also served as a meeting place for political clubs, she said, and undoubtedly was a meeting place for countless, more surreptitious political discussions.

Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Civic Association, held his monthly meetings there and was devastated by the imminent closure of the diner.

“It’s the last of the Mohicans. The last one left,” he said. “Where do you go for breakfast now when you want bacon and eggs?”

Capalbi, too, lamented the diner’s key place in Queens politics. Earlier in the month the Democratic Club of Flushing met in the expansive diner’s back room.

But while the diner marks a milestone in the changing of Flushing from one generation to the next — it took the place of a supermarket 35 years ago — Baird Herce said that remembering the past fondly is not the same as clinging to it.

“It’s a sign of the times and communities evolve,” she said. “I try and tell people you can’t hang on to a community.”

The owner, George Mantzikos, sounding despondent on the phone, did not want to comment on the closing.

Baird Herce said she did not blame Mantzikos for shutting the restaurant. The diner had an unusually important role in civic life in the community, but it is ultimately a business decision, she conceded.

But she said that some of the wait staff were surprised to learn their longtime place of employment would suddenly be closed.

“They are absolutely knocked on their pins,” Baird Herce said.

She overheard one of the waitresses say she had worked at the storied eatery for 22 years.

In addition to serving the standard diner fare of omelettes, burgers and French toast, the Palace Diner also had its own Greek twist, serving moussaka and baklava. Residents extolled the fare and spoke highly of Mantzikos, while online reviews pegged the food at average.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Reader Feedback

Gregory (Mendo) Cortese from ex-Queens borough hill Native says:
Well at least the Stray cats will be herded Slaughtered & served over a bed of rice ...I'm disappointed we wont be able to peg the Restaurant's Manager with those lovely Half sour pickles Anymore :( Ah the Good old days

The Hill Rules
Dec. 23, 2011, 8:16 am
jeff from flushing says:
they had no choice but to close . the korean's who have taken over flushing and bayside will not spend money unless its a korean establishment. So we should boycott there new dinner
Dec. 24, 2011, 3:29 pm
Diane from QBH says:
we lost key food and now this. The final stamp on the end of an era. sorry for the older folks who dont drive. there is really no where for them now.
Dec. 27, 2011, 12:31 pm
Robert O from Qbh.. says:
It's not the Koreans but the Chinese.. Its such a shame..
Dec. 27, 2011, 6:04 pm
Dorothy Tsarouhas from Flushing says:
As a long time resident of Flushing and a regular patron of the Palace Diner I am offended that you would call the Palace Diner a "greasy spoon". It was anything but and I will always remember the Palace Diner as a place that not only could you get a meal but served the community. The owners generously always supportted any fund raising event or would lend their facility to any meetings. We should all be in mourning for the loss of a Flushing Landmark.
Dec. 28, 2011, 8:18 am
Frank from QBH The Hill says:
Its a sad sad year in the old neighborhood. First The Keyfood Supermarket / Next its St Ann's School closing & now The Palace Diner. This is a tragedy ! At least they can't take away the memories. They Last Forever !
RIP > Palace Diner
Dec. 28, 2011, 4:42 pm
Diane P. from Floral Park says:
what is the restaurant supposed to do, stay open only because you guys want it to? if it's such a tragedy and so important to you, YOU take over.
Dec. 28, 2011, 4:58 pm
Buck W from Queens says:
Its the Asians who don't care about the American people and when they take over the diner. Their not going to hire American people cause they don't give a —— about us and always stare at us and make fun of us too. —— all Asians and bring back the American diners and places for us to eat.
Dec. 28, 2011, 6:08 pm
Dave from The Hill says:
I've known George, Pete, Eva & most of the wait staff of the Palace for almost 30 years. They became part of my family, and I part of theirs. We laughed & cried on good times and bad. The Palace was not just a diner, it was a second home that welcomed everyone in to relax for a moment and enjoy a meal. That's what will be sorely missed. Its like the ol' Cheers bar, but for the diner crowd. I hope and pray that the staff can find new employment in this tough time.... I doubt if the new owners will keep them on.
Dec. 28, 2011, 9:34 pm
Shari from Flushing says:
The Palace Diner was part of my High School Days. Every morning before going to school at John Bowne my friends and I went there for breakfast. Emily the waitress took care of us. She was like a second mom. Mom and dad took us there for dinner many times as well. I will truly miss this institution but I wish all the best for the family as they have gone through much over the past couple of years. Thanks for all the fond memories.
Dec. 29, 2011, 11:59 am
Sandra from Flushing/Arizona says:
What a surprise, I guess I thought they would ALWAYS be there. ALL Fond memories working there....Never a dull moment. Peter and his super large lobster, after it died he had it stuffed and hung. WELL one night someone slammed the door to hard and...well Peter Jr. shattered in pieces. WE ALL just froze....that was his pride and joy. I wish you all the best and yes I'll say it...THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!!!!
Sandra
Dec. 29, 2011, 6:57 pm
Deb from QBH says:
I managed to get thru 3 years of HS without ever going to a gym class - Thanks to the Palace Diner, I had a place to go every 1st and 2nd period. I graduated in 1984.......

Does anyone know why it's closing??
Dec. 30, 2011, 6:36 am
linda schmidt from flushing says:
It pisses me off how racist people get, like you cant blame the chinese for everything. Its Not their fault they're able to purchase it. Besides, america is a capitalist country so why are not wanting them to be invovled in entrepreneurship? And if you people think the Chinese shouldnt run it, then use your own money and make your own diner there.. you people are just ignorant b**tards....
Dec. 31, 2011, 9:40 am
Gabriel says:
Linda, you took the words right out of my mouth. I'm from Astoria myself and I was shocked at the blatant racism on this thread! Those people work hard, much harder than the racists probably ever did to make it in this country. They have the same rights cradle Americans have. Shame on you racist folks. You have no American Dignity in you!
Dec. 31, 2011, 10:03 am
Lynne from QBH says:
I posted this in several places on Friday:
Just got home from a farewell lunch at the Palace Diner. Two men, obviously the new owners, were doing a little recon outside. As we walked up the front steps, I said, "Can you at least wait until the body's cold, fellas?" Inside, old, infirm people who had probably not been there in 15 years, were being wheeled and hoisted in by their middle-aged children. I hugged Eva the hostess, who has been working there since Day One. The fish in the tank were being removed, except for one stubborn one. We had a wonderful lunch, and our waitress, Jennett, who has been a friend for many years, gave us a huge break on our check. She remembered that my 12-year-old, Taylor, was a tiny baby when they first met. Lots of familiar faces. Lots of taking of photos. It's all very sad. I will miss this place. They have seen my granddaughters grow up. My youngest, Isabella, was four months old when we first brought her.

You don't improve neighborhoods by destroying them. RIP Jane Jacobs.
Jan. 2, 2012, 2:02 pm
sinclair from upper east side says:
damn these capitalistic communists taking over the borough!
Jan. 2, 2012, 7:58 pm
Big Savu from Flushing/Astoria says:
Sad day indeed...the old guys from the hill should handle the "new breed" in Flushing 80's style, like in goodfellas!
Jan. 4, 2012, 1:44 pm
Richard from Flushing says:
Linda is 100 percent right. I'll just say this while I will miss the place its not as if I went there all the time. This placed opened up when my mother was in HS and she will attest since that day the place hasn't changed. And thats not a good thing the restaurant was falling apart! Dated decor, weeds as tall as a man growing outside. Hows about putting some cash back into the establishment? Hardly any of the kids my age went there growing up it was either Blue Bay (best Diner btw) or T-Bone. Sure its sad that a staple of the neighborhood has closed but thats life I guess. More business for Cornerstone diner?
Jan. 4, 2012, 5:01 pm
Gela from Flushing says:
The owner was NOT forced to sell the Palace Diner. It takes two to make a deal. There is some blatant racism going on and it is absolutely terrible. If you are THAT dissatisfied with the neighborhood succumbing to population changes, please do yourself a favor and re-locate. No one is forcing you to stay. Memories of this place can and will remain memories. But not every business can survive nowadays so something's gotta give. Tough luck.
Jan. 15, 2012, 3:18 am
mainstkid from flushing says:
Eva is now a hostess at Bayside Diner.
Jan. 31, 2012, 10:57 pm

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