The Empire Diner team called it quits last night. A host at the restaurant said that it might reopen next year under new management. Last week, TMZ reported that the restaurant was four months behind on rent and the owners were facing eviction. An employee told Eater that the staff was informed of the imminent closure one week ago. One of the owners of this establishment is Chopped star Amanda Frietag, who opened the restaurant in January 2014 as chef/partner. She stepped out of the kitchen back in July, but remained a co-owner. No word yet on who is taking over the operations.
The opening menu at Empire Diner included reinterpretations of greasy spoon favorites along with New American comfort food dishes that had no specific diner influences. The chicken fried steak was made with high-quality New York strip, the matzo ball soup was studded with bone marrow, and the Buffalo "wings" were strips of crispy skate doused in Frank's Red Hot sauce. Sietsema liked his first meal at the latest iteration of Empire Diner, but the restaurant did not generate much buzz after its opening.
This is actually the second failure in this iconic space since the original Empire Diner shuttered back in May 2010. The owners of Coffee Shop opened a neo-diner at this address in 2012 called The Highliner, but it didn't make it to its first birthday. Empire is one of just four free-standing diner spaces left in Manhattan.
Do you know who's taking over the Empire space? Or do know of another restaurant that opened or closed in your neighborhood? The tipline is always open and anonymity is guaranteed.