Vegas Diner closing after 35 years • Brooklyn Paper

Vegas Diner closing after 35 years

Calling in the chips: Bensonhurst eatery Vegas Diner is closing on June 26 after 35 years in business.
Community News Group / Jackson Chen

They’re cashing out!

Owners of the Bensonhurst institution Vegas Diner confirmed the eatery will close its doors for good on June 26. The diner at the corner of 86th Street and 16th Avenue opened in 1982 and has attracted a loyal clientele through more than three decades of slinging hash. According to Frank Mavromichalis — one of four business partners who own the round-the-clock diner — they decided it was time to retire now that they were getting older.

“We had so many years of great memories here, met so many wonderful people,” Mavromichalis said. “We’ll always have those memories with us. It’s just time for us to move on.”

The eatery boasts a lengthy menu that offers the classic diner fare of burger and fries, but also features filet mignon and lobster tail for those looking to indulge. Longtime diners had personal favorites, such as their disco fries — steak cut fries with melted mozzarella and gravy on the side — or the heaps of beef brisket.

Many customers had already heard the sad news through the grapevine and were devastated by the expected shuttering. Mavromichalis said they would make a more official statement as the closing date nears, but word had already travelled fast around the neighborhood.

“When I heard it as a rumor that they were closing, my heart was broken because old Brooklyn is dying more and more,” said Claire Notwicz, a loyal diner of 30 years. “It’s another institution gone, and you can’t replace it.”

Notwicz, a Bensonhurst resident, recalled that when she was working as a nurse, Vegas Diner was the reliable choice for a meal following the random hours her shift ended. But what made her feel welcome were the times she would arrive with a swarm of parents and children after local school plays.

“You’re talking 10-year-olds with 60-plus parents. No advance notice, and if they could accommodate us, they made do,” Notwicz said. “They put up with the children and babies and don’t make you feel bad that you come out with a family.”

Stephen Lynn grew up eating at Vegas. His fondest memories as a 6-year-old were the regular dine-ins with his grandfather in 1997. His childhood favorite was a bacon-lettuce-tomato with fries — but since then, his appetite and tastes have since matured to a bacon cheeseburger with fries, and a banana split for desert.

“They got the best coleslaw in Brooklyn I would say,” said Lynn, who now lives across the street. “This is one of the few places that knows how to make a burger.”

For many patrons, Vegas Diner served as the late-night grub spot. Both Julie and Eddie Garcia have been eating at the noshery since it first opened. During their glory days, they would often go out clubbing with friends and get separated from the group, but they would always reconvene at the diner.

“You come in, you want a burger, you want a steak, you want a beer,” Eddie Garcia said. “The best was in our younger days right after the clubs.”

It has actually become a family tradition.

“Every weekend we used to come here after we went clubbing and dancing,” said Julie. “Even for our kids, they do the same thing now.”

And the employees are just as committed as the customers, as most of the staff has worked at the diner for more than a decade.

“For all those years, I was very, very happy. All my bosses are very nice and really friendly with all the staff,” said Rosa Salas, a 20-year employee. “I don’t think I’m going to find some place where I’m going to feel so comfortable.”

Araceli Sosa (left) and Christina Liristis (right) have both worked at Vegas for the past 11 years.
Community News Group / Jackson Chen

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