This Sunday, March 26, 3 Guys Restaurant will serve its last meal at 49 East 96th Street after 33 years in business (though the location at 960 Madison Ave. will remain open).
As reported by Patch, the building owners allowed the restaurant to remain while seeking a tenant willing and able to meet a higher rent. It isn’t immediately clear if a new tenant has leased the space.
Described by The Infatuation as “entertaining a cross-section of the neighborhood as you can find,” 3 Guys has served classic diner fare and Greek specialties to its loyal patrons since the start – some of whom have included “old ladies who’ve been coming for their daily grapefruit and cottage cheese for 30 years.”
“It’s very sad, people are very sad that we are leaving,” the owner told Patch. “Thirty-three years is a long time. They love us in the neighborhood, it’s like a second home here.”
Even before the pandemic began, New York’s diners were disappearing. Landlords raising rent, cost-of-living increases, and developers looking to knock down and build higher have taken their toll. According to Paul Fetscher of Coldwell Banker, a diner “needs tremendous velocity to continue to make money,” and COVID closures meant a considerable slowdown. While PPP loans and gracious landlords might help businesses stay afloat for a few years, per 3 Guys, “My customers are not here — business never recovered.”
Photographer Riley Arthur has been documenting NYC’s diners and runs an Instagram account with pictures from more than 400 locations. Per her website, “Diners are often immigrant success stories, the majority owned by Greek immigrants. Diners are a part of an American culinary and architectural history.” And while 3 Guys’ owner solidly states, “We tried very hard to survive,” Arthur emphasizes that diners “are a dynamic part of the city’s fabric that is dying.”