New life for long-shuttered Long Island Restaurant?

A long rest for LI Restaurant
The Brooklyn Paper / Merritt Gurley

The Long Island Restaurant — the long-vacant chrome diner on Atlantic Avenue — is finally getting a new lease on life.

Linda Alperin, whose family has helmed the iconic restaurant at Henry Street since 1951, said her clan is about to begin exterior renovations in preparation for a new tenant.

“We want to see life come back,” she said. “It’s very sad to see it closed up. Everyone loves it and wants it to stay the same.”

Alperin declined to identify the future tenant, saying that it could be a year before the joint reopens. But Alperin said that the prospective restaurateur has agreed to keep the broken neon sign — and hopefully fix it, the Art Deco bar and some of the old interiors.

The diner shuttered in 2007 when Alperin’s mother and longtime owner Emma Sullivan quietly put up a “closed” sign that sent the community into a panic. What was supposed to be a short vacation turned into a years-long respite, leaving a barren corner on busy Atlantic Avenue.

It was difficult for the notoriously press-shy Sullivan, now in her late 80s, to let go. She began working there when her father, Ramon Montero, opened it 60 years ago, and became a friendly fixture behind the bar ever since.

“She knew everyone’s life,” said Alperin, who grew up eating family dinner at the diner. “She misses the people, but now she has grandchildren and a new life.”

Sullivan’s children pursued their own endeavors, so a new owner is the only hope to carry on the community landmark.

“It was time to let go,” Alperin said. “We want the corner to come back to life.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.