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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cheyenne Diner - NYC (Part 2)

We received another email from Michael Perlman and the Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner. This press release states the diner's second section will move tonight.

On flickr, Rego-Forest Preservation Council has a photostream of recent diner pictures. The Eater website has a view where the first half once was.

Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner
For Immediate Release For NY Media Relations:
Michael Perlman, Chairman & Preservationist
Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner
(917) 446-7775 (On scene: Calling Preferred)

For AL Media Relations:
Patti Miller
(205) 587-5068


NEW YORK, NY (Sept 16, 2009) – NYC’s historic Cheyenne Diner (411 9th Ave & 33rd St) will be granted a new lease on life, and began its long-awaited move to Alabama on the evening of Monday, Sept 14, 2009, and the 2nd section will be transported on Wed, Sept 16th around 11 PM (Call Perlman for time info). Since the Cheyenne’s dimensions are 15 ft x 96 ft (2,000 sq ft), the diner will be transported via flatbed in 2 sections to Alabama, with the expertise of Rigger Mel Brandt of M&M Rigging of PA, who transported 50 diners countrywide (including a role in NY’s historic Moondance Diner to LaBarge, WY in Aug 2007). Over the last few weeks, the concrete surrounding the diner was broken & the diner was cut in half. Devoted patrons, Committee members, and passersby will now have a rare opportunity to witness “history in the making” as hydraulic jacks will be installed underneath the Cheyenne Diner’s 2 sections, rolled forward to the curb on i-beams, and hoisted up onto a flatbed.

On Jan 13, 2009, Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner, Chairman Michael Perlman, 26 of Forest Hills, NY brokered the deal between Joel Owens of Birmingham, AL and property owner George Papas, after convincing Papas to be receptive based upon the diner’s historic reign. The diner was slated for demolition within the next few weeks, if a buyer willing to transport the diner wasn’t located. Perlman received alternate proposals from potential buyers from Upstate NY, PA, MI, TX, & UT, but it boiled down to first-come, first-serve, and Joel Owens, head of NAIC, an investment group, became the fortunate candidate. On Jan 25, 2009, the iconic Cheyenne Diner neon signs were carefully removed by Paul Signs Inc of Brooklyn, NY. The acquisition of city permits contributed to the 8-month wait since the deal was brokered.

Perlman states: “It is bittersweet that one of the last historic freestanding diners in Manhattan won’t remain close to its roots, but I take pride in knowing that the beloved Cheyenne Diner will not only retire down south for its golden years, but undergo a rebirth thanks to its dedicated owners who think outside of the box, and patrons can reminisce & make new memories in an Art Deco gem. The Committee will be on site to converse with patrons, document the move, & wave adieu to its Manhattan chapter.”

Joel Owens has announced plans to restore the Cheyenne to its 1940s glory with potential additions including a recreated Jay Dee Bakery (98-92 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills, NY), a Cheyenne Diner museum, classic car museum, rebuilt historic theaters, & a special events center. Owens states “This is a dream come true, especially in a state that has no historic freestanding diners. We ultimately plan on creating a small town with a historic feel, so future generations can have a chance to experience mid-century nostalgia, which is being lost.” Alabama Tourism Director, Lee Sentell, states “This has the potential to be a great Alabama destination.”

Backtracking... As Chairman of Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner, Perlman presented a proposal to property owner George Papas (owner of nearby Skylight Diner & developer for Cheyenne property) on closing day, Sunday, April 6th 2008, and convinced him to work together. A 9-story condo is slated to rise on premise, which marked the end of the diner's 68 year-run for its Manhattan chapter. Perlman a.k.a “Diner-Man” (http://www.observer.com/2008/diner-man-rescue) found ex-owner Mike O'Connell, who planned to transport the diner to Red Hook, but it fell through when it wouldn't fit across the Manhattan Bridge via flatbed, and the next option, transporting it by barge, proved 3 times as costly as traditional figures a year ago.

HISTORY: The Cheyenne Diner is a highlight in terms of its diverse patronage including celebrities i.e. Jerry Lewis & David Letterman, and since it's third to the last streamlined railway car-inspired diner in Manhattan, and a scarcity borough-wide. It was pre-assembled by the Paramount Dining Car Co. in 1940, and known as the Market Diner through '86 after the popular chain operated by the Zelin family. It features a majority of its original &/or distinctive elements. The streamlined fa├žade features vertical and horizontal stainless steel securing bowed colorful enamel panels, wrap-around windows, a curved entryway with glass block, & a reverse channel illuminated neon sign. The interior features a streamlined barrel roof, counter & stools, & Indian tribal coins. The Cheyenne was recently granted 1st prize on NYC-Architecture.com's “Top 10 NY Diners/Restaurants.” Spiros Kasimis was the tenant for approximately two decades.

Perlman explains: “Diners are amongst the ‘ultimate public institutions’ which harbor countless memories and bridge the generations. During the 30's - 60's eras, freestanding diners numerously dotted NYC’s 5 boroughs, and brought together individuals of various occupations in a cozy & striking ambiance. Today, they are becoming an endangered species at an alarming rate, and their loss is often most heartfelt. It is essential to preserve & reuse all remaining classic freestanding diners. Despite time constraints, we are committed to doing all we can for a noble cause.” The Committee’s consensus is that “A steady market for such nostalgic gems, coupled by the fact that they were manufactured to move; can ensure a victory for the Cheyenne Diner.”

Cheyenne Diner in operation in May 2007 & April 6, 2008 closing day photos, vintage photos, sign removal photos, & all photos from move to be posted, Courtesy of Preservationist Michael Perlman:
1941 photo (pan & zoom 3rd in sequence), courtesy of NYPL:
NYC Diner Preservation Record

- Sam Chinita housed in freestanding diner (8th Ave & 19th St), demolished 2000
- River Diner (11th Ave & 37th St), demolished Mar 2004
- Lunchbox Diner (357 West St), restored in 2002, but closed & remains abandoned
- Munson Diner (11th Ave & 49th St) transported to the Catskills in 2005
- Moondance Diner (80 6th Ave) transported to LaBarge, WY in Aug 2007 & reopens in 2009 (Michael Perlman founded the Committee To Save The Moondance Diner in spring 2007, which made him an official NYC preservationist after working with Extell Development, and granting it a new lease on life in LaBarge, WY) 
- Staten Island's Victory Diner transported in Aug 2007 to SI's Midland Beach Promenade & reopens in 2009  
- Some icons holding onto their own: NYC's Empire Diner (10th Ave & 22nd St), jet-age Market Diner (11th Ave & 43rd St) reopened Dec 2008, Air Line Diner/currently Jackson Hole (Astoria Blvd & 70th St), Square Diner (33 Leonard St near Varick St & W Broadway).



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