It is a sad day for all Queens residents with the closing of both the Gold Star Diner in Bayside and the Palace Diner in Flushing (“Gold Star Diner shuts its doors after being sold,” Bayside Times, Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 4, 2012).
Everyone has their favorite local diner. In November 2010, we lost our beloved Scobee Grill in Little Neck.
Eating out at diners has been part of our lives since we were growing up as teenagers in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Seventeen years ago, we met on a blind date at Scobee. We returned every year on the anniversary of that day. Last year, we packed our own lunch and sat outside in front of the still-vacant site.
We knew the staff on a first-name basis. Eating there was like joining the family for a home-cooked meal. Portions were generous and we often took home a doggie bag for the next day. Between the customary soup, salad, rolls, cole slaw and pickles along with the main course, dinner was usually filling.
As such, we bagged our desserts to go. Chocolate pudding with whipped cream may have been eaten on site, but the customary black-and-white or chocolate chip cookies came home.
Neighborhoods all over Queens have seen changes over time. Many new immigrant groups sometimes favor their own ethnic foods and restaurants. Diners have also lost customers over time to numerous fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, White Castle, Subway and Quiznos.
Many of their menus have expanded to include breakfast items and a greater selection for either lunch or dinner. Other customers have gone to competitively priced restaurants specializing in Italian, Greek and Chinese cuisine and seafood.
In difficult economic times, it is important to patronize your local diner if you want to see it stay in business.
My wife and I do not mind paying a little more to help them survive. We try to tip 20 percent against the total bill and taxes. If we can afford to eat out, we can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take-out, we leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook.
It is appreciated. These people are neighbors. They work long hours, pay taxes and provide local jobs. If we do not patronize our local diner when we eat out, they do not eat either.
Let us all toast the good times we had at Scobee along with Gold Star and Palace. Our New Year’s resolution is hoping we do not lose any more local diners.
Larry and Wendy Penner
Great Neck, L.I.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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