NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A popular Manhattan diner closed for good Saturday, becoming another business casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
It proved to be the final straw for the small business, which faced an uphill battle even before the COVID-19 fight, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Regulars of Vicky’s Diner on West 187th Street in Washington Heights lined up to say goodbye.
“They bring me flowers, they bring me everything. They bring me love,” owner Vicky Limberis said.
Limberis said her beloved eatery could not survive the pandemic with $8,000 in rent due every month, plus taxes, government regulations and red tape.
“I blame a lot of people,” Limberis said. “All politicians, I blame.”
“This pandemic is just, you know, it’s almost like it can’t get any worse and then this happens,” said Jeffrey Vause.
“Places like this should survive,” said Laura Sanchez.
“We’ve been coming since before we had kids. Vicky has been a big part of our lives and why our children finish their food. Because she insists they do,” said Sarah Adriance.
“They just finish it, they know, they listen,” Limberis said.
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Limberis immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in 1975.
“Fifty dollars in my pocket and I was 15 years old and no language,” she said.
She worked in restaurants for 20 years before owning her own.
The current lease was agreed to last year, and Limberis says she was given a break on two months rent at the beginning of the pandemic. But, it wasn’t enough.
Her five employees had to say their farewells, too.
“Because everybody here’s like a family,” one employee said.
He says he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next.
Other storefronts on the small block are closing up, too. Vicky’s Diner brings the total to four.
The owner of VIP Cleaners next door said losing Vicky’s hurts.
“They’re not going to walk by this side at all. They will going to go someplace else,” said Jessica Lee.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than $10,000 – money that won’t be used to bring Vicky’s Diner back. But, it will help Limberis and her staff as they scatter to find new jobs.
CBS2 learned the landlord for most of the block, including Vicky’s Diner, recently died. Attempts to talk to the real estate representatives or a management group were unsuccessful.
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