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Diner disaster! St. Claire to close

Humble pie no more.

The (old) New St. Clair Restaurant on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street has been sold for an upgrade — and locals are already feeling heartburned.

Spiro Katehis, owner of the Carroll Gardens Classic Diner, has bought the 40-year-old hash palace from the Costa family, which owned it since 1967. The diner will close at the end of September for a trendy makeover expected to take several months.

Katehis said he plans to keep the family-run diner’s name and its affordable, sausage-and-eggs fare, but lose its décor, which can be safely described as “1970s Queens basement,” thanks to a reliance on crystalline chandeliers and taxidermy fish.

“You can put the same salad in a new dish and it feels totally different,” said the new owner. “We want to keep the menu, but make [the restaurant look] a little more trendy, make it feel more like a part of the street.”

The coming change has already inspired at least one mournfully buttery last breakfast.

“I went this morning, two eggs over well done with home fries,” said a morose Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association. “It’s a place you go when you need something quick, when you need something slow. We have community meetings there. I hope the new people are as good to the neighborhood as [the old owners were].”

The Costa family opened the New St. Clair soon after migrating from Cyprus in 1967. Since then, the St. Clair fed a steady stream of local residents, merchants and police and corrections officers from the House of Detention across the street.

When the 11-story jail closed in 2003, business slowed, but the rest of the neighborhood had grown so expensive that the diner still enjoyed a special place in the hearts and budgets of local workers.

“I come whenever the boss lets me. I hope the place doesn’t change too much,” said one uniformed 76th Precinct police officer, speaking over a large platter of egg salad.

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