QUEENS — A Briarwood diner that has been a Queens Boulevard fixture for more than five decades is losing its home to an apartment building, according to restaurant owners and the property's developer.
The Flagship Diner at 138-30 Queens Blvd. has been offering classic American cuisine for 52 years, and served as a hangout for neighbors, elected officials, and lawyers working at the nearby Queens Criminal Court.
But Jamaica-based White Rock Management group, which purchased the site on July 14 for $6.125 million, plans to knock down the eatery and build a seven-story, mixed-use apartment building featuring 64 units, as first reported by New York YIMBY.
“There is nothing we can do about it,” Jimmy Skartsiaris, who co-owns the diner with Vincent Pupplo and Frank Lountzis, said about the property sale.
On July 26, White Rock Management filed an application with the Department of Buildings to demolish the diner, which was approved on the same day, according to city records.
A representative for White Rock confirmed the plans but did not elaborate.
“It was not only a place to eat but also a place to meet," said Aida Vernon, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. “If we lose that, we don’t really have the equivalent of that.”
Vernon, who is also president the Briarwood Action Network, hoped that the planned development would include a space for the diner to return.
"It's hard to picture the neighborhood without it," said Councilman Rory Lancman.
"It's a quintessential community diner where families have been eating at for generations," he added.
Skartsiaris said Wednesday that he and his partners hope the restaurant will remain open until its lease expires in October 2019. In the meantime, they're considering a move to another location in Queens.
"We will look around," he said.