GREENWICH VILLAGE — After 60 years of serving up burgers, omelets and other diner classics, the University Restaurant is closed its doors Wednesday.
Heartbroken patrons filed through the diner at the corner of University Place and East 12th Street for one last meal Wednesday, as a "For Rent" sign hung in the window.
"I'm going to miss this place, good neighbors good people," said University Restaurant chef Mauricio Lopez, who was working the grill for the last time.
Lopez said the store had to shut because of a rent hike, saying, “we have no choice.”
He said he didn't know the specific details about the rent hike. Building owner Sutton Garrett Realty Associates Ltd did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Located just minutes from Union Square, the diner became a local landmark for many New Yorkers, like 79-year-old Maurice Zucker, who ate there for over 30 years.
“I think it’s tragic that so many luncheonettes and diners have been closing for unreasonable hikes in rent,” Zucker said.
University Restaurant regular Natalie Hutman, 33, said she was disappointed that her favorite restaurant is closing, and said she fears the space's potential new occupants could be a chain store.
“A corporate franchise should not be here,” Hutman said. “[We need to] save the neighborhood’s vibe.”
She says University Restaurant represents a part of New York that is disappearing, “where people sit around like on the 'Seinfeld' show, like old New York.”