The iconic but beleaguered space of Empire Diner will open as a restaurant again under chef John DeLucie. DNAinfo reports that the chef behind Bedford & Co and some owners behind clubby Chelsea diner Cafeteria plan to revive it. The landmarked restaurant, one of the last freestanding diners in the city, is expected to reopen in November.
It’s been a rough time for Empire Diner since the storied restaurant originally closed in May 2010. It most recently shut down last December after Chopped star chef Amanda Frietag spent a couple years running the restaurant, and before that, the owners of Coffee Shop ran a neo-diner in the space called The Highliner, which closed within a year of its opening.
DeLucie is known for opening restaurants in institutional spaces with historical significance, though his takes on them have not been met with much buzz. He ran the kitchen of Bill’s Food & Drink in the historic Bill’s Gay Nineties space, which closed in February, and he reopened the storied King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel before leaving last spring, reportedly not of his own volition. His other restaurants, The Windsor, The Lion, and Crown, closed amid a messy business divorce between him and his other partners at Crown Group. It’s not yet clear what DeLucie will do with the Empire Diner space, but stay tuned for information as it becomes available.