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A History of the Diners And Coffee shops of Flushing

A History Of The Diners And Coffee Shops Of Flushing
Apr 4, 2019

Above - A classic 1940's Flushing Diner at what would be present day 150th Street & Northern Boulevard

The early twentieth century rural pastures of Flushing NY would fully transition to suburban sprawl by centuries end, and during that time period  'The Diner' became a common form of eatery establishment  throughout the area.  This article seeks to look back at the diners of Flushing.  An eatery trend  which began in the 1920's reached its peak in the 1980's and slowly dwindled to the present day, where such establishments are far from as common as they once were.

In the early 20th Century the trend of dining out for cheap eats which began with customers flocking to moving wagons in the prior century morphed into stationary establishments that served patrons indoors  .  'Diners' as they came to be known began to populate the landscape of America in serious fashion and by the end of WWII stationary eateries sporting stool chairs, counter tops, porcelain tiles, and/or leather booths were common throughout the country.  

One of the earliest Flushing diner's was the Capitol Diner which was located at Lawrence Street & Northern Boulevard.  The Capitol was located at what was the main area hub of commercial activity in the newly developing Flushing area with the Whitestone Rail Road Station within walking distance and a trolley pickup location on Lawrence Street.

Capitol Diner - East Side of Northern Boulevard at Lawrence Street - Circa 1930

A great example of a Flushing diner in the tradition of the prototypical Northeast U.S. railcar-style diner that was sweeping America was the Rex Diner.  The Rex Diner of Flushing had two location in Flushing, one at 141st Street and another location at 160th Street.  Railcar style diners were quick set-up diners that were pre-fabricated manufactured  and assembled on location.


Rex Diner - 1940's Real Photo & Postcard

Downtown Flushing being a location of high population density was home to many restaurants and eateries.  College Point Bouelvard which today has seen a resurgence in busness development and activty has had several popular diners throughout its history.  One of the more popular post-war diners was the Blue Bird Diner.

Blue Bird Diner -  4424 College Point Boulevard - Circa 1940s

Blue Bird Diner - Circa 1940's

The Blue Bird Diner lived well into the late 1970's although it passed ownership several times over the decades.  Eventually, the diner came under new ownership during a period where America's post war diners were purchased by Greek Immigrants and converted into what became known as 'The Greek Diner' which served food  fare from the American Greek tradition.  Here below, we see the Blue Bird Diner of the 1940's with a new name, 'The Venis'.

The Venis Diner - 1970s - 4424 College Point Boulevard

Another popular Flushing Diner that would be born out of the wave of diner establishments n the Greek retsurant tradition was the Saravan Diner.  The Saravan Diner was a popular Flushing Diner that even lasted into the 21st Century but eventually succumbed to the changed demographics of the area, shutting its doors in 2004.  Today the edifice that was the once Saravan Diner stands as New Bank an Asian Community Bank.

1980's Postcard of the Saravan Diner - A Typical Greek Diner @ 146-01 Northern Boulevard

The Diner tradition today in Flushing is de minimus compared to its heyday.  Mainly the result of changing tastes throughout the country.  That said, there are still several great diner's in existence in Flushing with a storied history and we will attempt to write about them in what we hope to be an ongoing series.

Until then.....  Happy Eating! 


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