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“End Of An Era” Another Bensonhurst Diner To Shutter After 35 Years [Updated]

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Vegas Diner, 1619 86th Street. (Screenshot via Google Images)

We’re sad to announce your last chance to get the famed disco fries at this 24-hour staple serving generations of Bensonhurst neighbors.

“The reason we’re closing is simple,” said co-owner Frank Mavromichalis. “A couple of partners are in their 80s, and decided to retire and spend time with their families.”

The Vegas Diner, a hallmark of old-school Brooklyn at the corner of 86th Street between Bay 13th Street & 16th Avenue, is slated to close on June 26, according to restaurant staff — almost one year to the day that we said farewell to the iconic Del Rio Diner.

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Both diners, who share a co-owner, have been offering inexpensive fare couched in a homey atmosphere for 35 years.

The Vegas Diner’s original owner, Alex Tombrakos, opened the place in the midst of a snow storm in April, 1982 we previously reported. His famous work ethic and reputation won him respect from food writers across the city until he died from bone cancer in April 2011.

When the Del Rio closed last year, co-owner Larry Georgeton told us that economic conditions were at the heart of that first closure.

“The economy is not for this kind of business model anymore,” said Georgeton last year of the Del Rio’s closure. “I love my customers, and I don’t want to hurt them with the menu. They are hardworking, middle-class people here — bus drivers, postmen, teachers — they don’t want to pay $9-$10 for a hamburger, so I said, let’s go out on top.”

It’s an old story among mom-and-pop restaurants in Bensonhurst, with shifting demographics and a spike in costs prompting many to question if the old food business model is sustainable.

(Photo by Mary Bakija/Bensonhurst Bean)

But for neighbors, the news that the Vegas Diner is closing represents not just a loss of inexpensive food options, but memories.

Facebook commenters reminisced about post-clubbing grub, junior proms, and regular family dinners on 86th Street. And food critics follow suit — the diner was rated the Best in Brooklyn in both 2002 and 2005 by the Daily News, showing that it’s fame was fueled by more than just nostalgia.

What will you miss most about the iconic diner?

[Update 3/30: Added statement from Frank Mavromichalis]

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11 COMMENTS

  1. My family will miss the BEST multigrain pancakes ever!!!! No one else makes them So if your a fan of great pancakes (Multigrain only!) you must have them before the vagas diner closes in June we will try to have them a few times before they are gone :•(

  2. How sad that all these diners are closing. Wish they can find a buyer who will keep this diner there. I have heard that where Del Rio’s was that a CVS is being built and I wonder what’s going to replace the Vegas.

  3. This is just another example of so many restaurants all over our boro that are closing. Diners, Kosher Deli’s, & small business’s. Here in the bay we have lost our McDonalds our diners, our Thai, Chinese, Italian & Luncheonette. All we have now are Japanese & Turkish places, too many of the same food.

  4. I think we’re being mislead here. To me I’m reading between the lines and he probably got offered millions for the land versus handing it over to someone new, so his excuse was I don’t want to over charge people. If people like your food they’ll pony up $9-$10 bucks for a good hamburger. People won’t like it, but they’ll pay it. Now I could be completely wrong, but instead of finding a new buyer for the diner he probably found a corporation willing to pay him millions of dollars vs a local guy wanting to continue the business. “Mom & Pop” places are closing because I’m sure due to the economic climate, but moreover than not, if you own the building for 50 years and someone comes walking in with a suitcase full of money you’re choosing the money and running.

  5. So sad to see all those diners go….thank God I have one I like near me…The one and only one on Cropsey Ave next to the old Pathmark which is now Stop n Shop. Across the street was a Burger King but now is a new restaurant..Chipotely…

  6. Oh please. I live across street from where Del Rio stood. Both places the food was marginal . only a few things were actually good. They used to have GREAT food and service but the last ten years both the food and service had gone downhill.

    Also that greasy stench is finally gone and I don’t have to hear about anyone else getting sick on their food.

  7. There’s a comment “you can’t go home again”, so true. When I go back to Brooklyn, my home of home, it’s like I am in another country. Avenue U, and the west streets, 86th street, kings highway, nostrand Ave, all the diners are gone.fruit & vegetable stores gone. Brooklyn isn’t Brooklyn any more.😪😪

  8. One local guy bought both diners. He’s a contractor and as I understand it, he’s now forced to sale Vegas because of the zoning laws and he can’t build what he intended to build.

  9. Where are we older folks to sit comfortably, order familiar food i.e. plain tuna salad sandwich, have coffee and stay as long as the conversation continues. The new trend is to decorate places minimally, small tables, hard chairs and offer food that you’re not quite sure what you’ll be getting. That business model apparently is to ‘get them in, offer fancier presentations, charge $$, and get them out the door’. Making a profit is fine, but there’s no heart.
    There are enough of us old enough to remember when every neighborhood had a diner that was comfortable, fed you and was very affordable. Would a businessman with a heart build a diner, make it handicap accessible, and call it ‘Seniors’?
    (Unless there’s already a business with that name)

  10. I agree with Joe. Property prices in Brooklyn are through the roof. Homes that went for $500,000 about 10 years ago are now selling for over $1 million. I believe the owners of both Del Rio & Vegas were offered a ton of cash and they never looked back. I can’t say I blame them, a good profit is what you hope for when you sell a business or home. For me, it isn’t so much about the food, you could certainly get better elsewhere; it’s about losing another piece of my childhood!! But, at least I still have my fond memories.

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