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Big Daddy's Set To Close Due To 2nd Ave. Subway Construction, Owners Say

By Shaye Weaver | September 3, 2016 11:39am | Updated on September 6, 2016 5:41pm
 Big Daddy's at East 83rd Street and Second Avenue is moving out and its sister eatery, Duke's, is moving in this month.
Big Daddy's at East 83rd Street and Second Avenue is moving out and its sister eatery, Duke's, is moving in this month.
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Big Daddy's

UPPER EAST SIDE — Big Daddy's — a neighborhood staple known for its 1980s diner decor, large hamburgers, over-the-top milkshakes, and macaroni and cheese — is leaving its location of almost two decades after taking "a big hit" from Second Avenue Subway construction, the restaurant says.

The eatery will serve its last meal at its 1596 Second Ave. location on Sept. 5.

Big Daddy's has existed on the corner of Second Avenue and 83rd Street for 15 years, serving American cuisine to celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey and Tim Gunn.

Branded Restaurants, which owns Big Daddy's, has plans to reopen the eatery sometime in the fall elsewhere on the Upper East Side, according to Julie Zucker, the company's director of marketing and promotions.

Branded Restaurants is currently seeking a new location on the Upper East Side and would prefer to find a place in the 70s or 80s toward the eastern half of the neighborhood if possible, according to Zucker.

The company plans to do a quick, two-week turnover and open its sister southern roadhouse restaurant, Duke's, in the same space in mid-September, she said.

"We never planned on leaving. Big Daddy's loves the Upper East Side, and loved being the hang out for students after school, families, and new people who just moved into the Upper East Side," she said. "But once the Second Avenue Subway construction started, it was hard to maintain our brand there. While the construction is subsiding, we did take a big hit over the last three years."

When asked how much the work cost the business, Zucker wouldn't say how much, but said that half of Big Daddy's business was lost.

Getting to the restaurant became difficult and inconvenient for mothers and their children with construction debris around, and its facade, known for its big bright lights and sign, was hidden by a construction fence, she added.

And although construction is wrapping up, Branded Restaurants decided to switch things up and replace Big Daddy's with Duke's, to offer something new to the neighborhood in time for football season.

Duke's has a slew of Southern-style dishes, from skillets, sliders, burgers, and house specialties like chicken-fried steak, fried chicken and waffles, and 16-ounce "Big Ass Cocktails," like its "Voodoo Juice" with rum and juices, and a "Duke-a-Rita" with Sauza blue, Triple Sec and lime juice.

It also has Big Daddy's favorites like mac and cheese, fried chicken and chilli, Zucker said.

"We’ve loved all of our customers and neighbors, and loved being part of our area," she said. "This is isn't 'goodbye,' it’s 'see you later.' Until then we're happy to bring Duke's to the neighborhood."

All gift certificates and promotions can still be used at Big Daddy's other locations on the Upper West Side and in Gramercy Park.