Williamsburg’s iconic Kellogg’s Diner is struggling to stay alive

October 1, 2020

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One of the thousands of small businesses struggling to make ends meet in New York City’s pandemic world is Williamsburg’s Kellogg’s Diner, which has been in business since the 1940s. The 24-hour restaurant at the corner of Metropolitan and Union Avenues says it’s in danger of closing if the city doesn’t increase its indoor dining capacity from 25 to 50 percent. Referring to the fact that restaurants in the rest of the state are able to operate at half capacity, owner Irene Siderakis told Pix 11, “Why is it fair for them and not for us? I don’t understand. I don’t get it.”

According to the state’s four-phase reopening, New York City should have begun indoor dining on July 6. But unlike the state’s other nine regions, the city’s date for indoor dining was placed on hold indefinitely. Just yesterday, restaurants in the five boroughs were finally able to reopen at 25-percent capacity with other mandatory guidelines in place such as temperature checks, social distancing of tables, no bar service, and a midnight closing time. But many restauranteurs across the city are questioning why they are not allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity like the rest of the state.

As Eater explains, old-school diners across New York City were facing challenges even before the pandemic, as their freestanding buildings often have very high rents. But since the pandemic began, several of these establishments have already closed, including Carroll Gardens Classic Diner in Boerum Hill, 24-hour Good Stuff Diner in Chelsea, and the Forest Hills Diner in Forest Hills, Queens.

Irene Siderakis’ husband Christos bought Kellogg’s Diner–which has made appearances in HBO’s Girls, CBS’ Blue Bloods, and Starz’ Power–in 2013, from Anthony, Frank and Fotis Fiotodimitrakis, “three brothers from Crete that ran it since the 1970s — and who still own the building today,” according to Bedford + Bowery. However, Christos unexpectedly passed away just two years later. Formerly a stay-at-home mom, Irene was left to take over the business with no prior experience in order to support her four children. “To fail after succeeding — and they’re making me fail? These restrictions? As a single mom and as a single woman it’s not right,” Siderakis told Pix 11.

When Governor Cuomo made the announcement about indoor dining in the city last month, he said that restaurants may be permitted to go to 50 percent capacity starting November 1 if the infection rate does not increase. But this week, the city saw a major uptick in cases, with several clusters in Brooklyn and Queens.


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