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After More Than 80 Years in Business, Neil’s Coffee Shop Closes on the Upper East Side

The luncheonette owed nearly $1 million in back rent, reports suggest

Neil’s Coffee Shop on the Upper East Side has closed.
Neil’s Coffee Shop on the Upper East Side has closed.
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Neil’s Coffee Shop, a New York City diner on the Upper East Side since 1940, has closed. Its closure dovetails with the death of Cristo Kaloudis, the owner for around 40 years. According to court filings reported by the neighborhood blog, UpperEastSide, the coffee shop allegedly owed nearly $1 million in unpaid rent; Kaloudis died two months shy of the coffee shop’s eviction date, according to Patch.

The eviction appeared to be a long time coming for Neil’s Coffee Shop in some form or another. UpperEastSide reveals that Neil’s had apparently filed for bankruptcy in 2016, owing debts around $100,00; by 2018, landlords were reportedly granted eviction. Trouble plagued the space as early as 2002 when it was caught in the crossfire of a firebomb. Other factors may have come into play as well: just days before Neil’s Coffee Shop’s closing, a March 2023 health department inspection found the presence of rodents at the restaurant.

The Upper East Side staple was featured in a rare four-page print spread in New York Magazine in 2017; it featured heavily as the subject of then-Grub Street critic Adam Platt’s lament on the death of the diner. At the time, Kaloudis, who arrived to New York in the 1960s by way of the Greek island Chios, told Platt that he hoped to pass the business to his son, but that it would be up to his next-of-kin to renegotiate the lease: “The price was a million bucks in ’82,” he told the publication in 2017, about his missed opportunity to buy the space. “Who’s got a million bucks?” Even back then he worried about turning a profit, telling Grub Street that “We have low prices here. I never raise them!”

Neil’s was a rare spot in an otherwise notoriously pricey area that had a mix of people from all walks of life at its lunch counter — particularly for those at nearby Hunter College — while photographs of celebrity patrons like Steve Martin lined the walls. The creator of Mad Men, has reported being a fan.

What will become of the space, seized with a Marshal’s notice earmarked on March 7, is still up in the air.

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