Monday, October 17, 2011

Several factors led to diner's demise

From the Times Ledger:

The Forest Diner on 108th Street in Forest Hills closed last month after slinging food for about 30 years, and some residents said its passing was a watershed moment in the history of the neighborhood.

Chai Frouz owns a store next to the diner near 63rd Drive and said the area is not the same as when the diner opened in the 1980s.

“There used to be a line to get in there on Sundays,” said Frouz, “But not anymore. The neighborhood changed.”

The numbers back up his story.

According to data from the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census, the population in both Rego Park and Forest Hills declined from 44,189 to 43,600 and 70,204 to 68,733 people, respectively.

Citywide, the weak growth numbers reported by the census were disputed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In Rego Park and Forest Hills, those population declines went hand-in-hand with housing vacancy rates that in some cases doubled over the 10-year period.

In 2000, the rental vacancy rate in Rego Park was 2 percent. In 2010, it was 3.8.

That number jumped from 2 percent to 4.4 percent in Forest Hills over the same period.

The two neighborhoods also became more diverse in the 10 years between each Census, with Asian and Hispanic populations increasing by several percentage points.

A representative from Zand Realty, which is trying to sell the vacant space, said the economy was to blame for the diner’s closing.


Anonymous said...

There are two separate issues here.

The closing of this diner along with places like UJ's has a lot to do with the economy, but also the arrival of chains such as Johnny Rockets and higher end establishments that cater to the tastes of younger residents.

The vacancy rate in an area like Forest Hill has less to do directly with the economy than the fact that many young residents chose these areas because they were somewhat cheaper than those in, or closest to Manhattan.

When the recession hit Manhattan rents got cheaper and those areas farther out became bit less desirable in comparison.

Now that Manhattan rents are going up again, the squeeze-out effect will gradually make those outer areas desirable again.

Anonymous said...

The diner didn't close because of the area's dwindling population, it's as crowded as ever. It's that the newer residents don't want good old fashioned diner food. They want crap like Johnny Rocket's and they want ethnic food.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised no one is blaming the parking...

Anonymous said...

Of course the area is not the same nor is the rent amount and perhaps the Diner itself is to blame as well.

Anonymous said...

The place was filthy. It had a B then a C inspection rating. I went there a few times and decided that at least the Georgia Diner you get better and cheaper food even though the wait may be a few minutes longer.

That C rating killed them.

Anonymous said...

"the Georgia Diner you get better and cheaper food"

Cheaper for sure. Crappier for sure...

I went there and saw them take bread off a table they just cleaned up and give it to a table they just seated. Gross!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I went there and saw them take bread off a table they just cleaned up and give it to a table they just seated. Gross!!!!!

Oh man, if that is your biggest worry... 99% of places do this. even 5-star joints.

Pick up Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. Lots of good info on restaurants.

Toasted Bread = stale, so they toasted it to hide it
Sunday brunch = recycle what didn't sell Saturday night
Never order the fish on a Sunday
Order Well done = get the worst cut of meat they have. Not to screw with you, but to save the good stuff for someone who orders med-rare

Anonymous said...

The only day of the week the place had any business was on Sunday. It was a ghost town any other day of the week. Also, the C rating did them in. I won't dine anywhere that isn't A rated.

Anonymous said...

2 eggs over with 3 greek chest hairs..

Sergey Kadinsky said...

As a local resident, I disagree with the assertion that small business is in decline. A block away, Carmel still attracts crowds for its homemade coffee, it's been in business for years.

The 108th Street shopping strip boasts three pizza places. One opened a year ago. A Russian video/book store is still in business, in spite of the internet.

If anything, the big brands are in decline, with the Bukharian cuisine Grill Palace replacing a McDonald's franchise on 108th Street. The fast food blandness has been replaced with on-site kosher cooking.

On the street where I live.

RC said...

You build a business where your market is. If your market moves away, so should your business, or you else shouldn't be surprised if demand declines.

Niche ethnic businesses thrive in ethnic neighborhoods, as Sergey's post illustrates. That's been the way of Queens: delis in the old Jewish neighborhoods, beer gardens and butchers in the German, pubs in the Irish, party halls with Uzbek song and dance floor shows in Bukharian.

An American-style dinner would do better than a pork store on 108th Street, but apparently not much.

Anonymous said...

Why is this even remotely noteworthy?