CHELSEA — The NYPD on Tuesday recognized the owners of a 23rd Street diner for stepping up when their neighbors needed them and helping feed first responders and the residents of a nearby home for the blind in the chaos that followed the Sept. 17 Chelsea bombing.
The owners of the Malibu Diner, located on West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, went beyond the call of duty in the aftermath of the bombing, serving more than 180 meals to the vulnerable, including residents of Visions at Selis Manor, located down the block, according to Detective Ray Dorian, of the 13th Precinct.
“They saw they were needed and they went above and beyond to help out,” Dorian said on Tuesday at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council.
Dorian presented a plaque recognizing the service of diner owners Alexandros Grimpas and José Collado in recognition of the meals they served to the blind residents of Selis Manor on Sept. 18 and Sept. 19 as investigators scoured the block for clues and the residents were mostly cooped up inside.
“Many of them were able to hear the blast, and it was a big stress for them,’ Grimpas said.
Chelsea was plunged into chaos just after 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 when authorities say Ahmad Khan Rahami's homemade pressure cooker bomb detonated on 23rd Street near Sixth Avenue. The blast injured 29 and led to several days of fear and uncertainty before police captured Rahami in a shootout in New Jersey, where investigators said he had planted several other bombs.
But it also revealed the moxie of everyday New Yorkers, many of whom rose to the occasion to help their neighbors and nearly all of whom took the events in stride as others around the country took to social media in panic.
Among the heroes of that week was a photographer on West 27th Street who alerted police to an unexploded bomb investigators say Rahami had planted around the corner from the 23rd Street bomb, as well as Grimpas and Collado, who teamed up with the Red Cross to serve meals to residents of Selis Manor and first responders and investigators as well as allowing their diner to be used for press briefings.
Grimpas and Collado have owned the diner since 1999, and said they try to lead by example.
“We just wanted to show what it means to be part of a community,” Grimpas said.