At Hinsch’s, the signs they are a’changing!

The beloved Hinsch’s luncheonette on Fifth Avenue between 85th and 86th strets, has closed for good.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Hinsch’s legendary luncheonette has lost its iconic neon signs — and owner Mike Moudatsos says that, while one will return, the other is gone forever.

Moudatsos — who bought the classic Fifth Avenue counter in March — said that both the light-up sign directly above the door, and the jutting marquee fixed to the second story, had suffered damage and needed to be taken down.

Moudatsos said the neon name over the entrance that welcomed customers for 65 years shorted out last week while workers were cleaning the exterior of the building. He sent the sign in for repairs, and vowed it would return by July 19. But the owner said the projecting beacon that caught the eyes of passersby on 85th and 86th streets with promises of “Candy” and “Soda” had deteriorated too severely over the decades — and actually posed a public hazard.

“They didn’t clean the sign for so many years, everything’s destroyed, all the lights are rusted out. It was ready to fall,” said Moudatsos.

Sign of the times: New Hinsch’s owner said the old neon Hinsch’s sign was a public danger, and needed to be replaced.
Community Newspaper Group Vince DiMiceli

Moudatsos — who owns a chain of souvlaki joints bearing his name in Staten Island — announced from the outset that he intended to tweak the ice cream parlor’s moniker to “Mike’s Hinsch’s.” But he promised to keep the essence of the eatery the same — despite his having radically transformed a throwback A & W carhop on the Rock.

“We’re going to try to keep the place like it is, we’re not going to go crazy,” the Greek diner mogul said earlier this year. “The place has been here 60-plus years, and people like the place, the neighborhood wants it to stay the way it is.”

Moudatsos bought the financially-flailing greasy spoon and ice cream parlor from Skinflints owners Gerard Bell and Bill Gardell, and their partner Roger Desmond. The trio had themselves saved the beloved eatery from closure in 2011.

Hinsch’s is the second Brooklyn classic to lose its glow this year. The neon signage also came down at the soon-to-reopen Long Island Restaurant in Brooklyn Heights in March.

Unplugged: Moudatsos said the classic sign over the entrance suffered damage during a cleaning of the exterior, and needed to be repaired.
Community Newspaper Group Vince DiMiceli

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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