Bensonhurst

Del Rio Diner closing after 40 years

July 19, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A patron walks by a window containing a sign put up by the management to thank customers for 40 years of loyalty. Eagle photo by Mario Belluomo

An iconic Southwest Brooklyn restaurant that has been a popular dining spot for 40 years is preparing to serve its last meal.

Del Rio Diner, located at 166 Kings Highway on the Bensonhurst-Gravesend border, will close its doors for good on July 24, co-owner Larry Georgeton confirmed to various news media outlets.

Georgeton told the Bensonhurst Bean that times have changed and that the economy can no longer support a diner such as Del Rio. Demographic shifts that have taken place in Bensonhurst and Gravesend over the last 10 years have brought changes in residents’ eating habits, leaving old-fashioned diners out in the cold.

Recent years have seen the closure of several diners in Southwest Brooklyn, including the El Greco Diner on Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay.

When Del Rio Diner opened in 1976, it quickly became the “go-to” place for senior citizens, families with small children and young couples on dates who were looking for dinner after going to the movies.

Georgeton is a co-owner along with Teddy Mavromichalis and Jimmy Vlamis.

In its early years, many of its young clients would come into the diner after hitting the disco clubs. Young men trying to be as cool as John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” would come into the diner with their pretty girlfriends.

“It was a very big hangout for so many lonely seniors and during the disco craze back in the 1970s; it was the place to go to after an evening of dancing in Bay Ridge,” Mario Belluomo told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.

Councilmember Mark Treyger lamented the closure of Del Rio Diner on his Facebook page.

Treyger, who called it “my favorite neighborhood diner,” said the eatery will be sorely missed.

“This is an iconic neighborhood establishment that serves great food at reasonable prices, has very friendly and personable staff and has been a staple in southern Brooklyn for decades. This is indeed a major neighborhood loss, but we wish the owners and workers all the best in their future endeavors and thank them for their service,” he wrote.

Treyger’s post drew dozens of replies from Brooklyn residents all expressing sadness at the loss of a popular icon.

“This loss is worse, in my opinion, than so many others we’ve experienced. Diners are uniquely Brooklyn; to lose them seriously damages the character of our neighborhood,” Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon wrote.

Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, is also a Del Rio Diner fan. “I used to live on 74th and Bay Parkway and went there at least two times a week. Loved them so much,” she wrote.

The closure of Del Rio Diner appears to be part of a pattern taking place all across the city.

In a 2015 article, Crain’s New York Business reported that diners in New York are starting to close at a rapid rate, largely due to economic pressures, the changing eating habits of the city’s residents and the reluctance of younger members of proprietors’ families to take over and run the businesses.

There were 1,000 diners in New York City a generation ago, according to Crain’s, which reported that as of 2015, that number had dwindled down to 398.

Georgeton is also the co-owner of the Vegas Diner at 1619 86th St. in Bensonhurst, which remains open.

 

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