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.