BRIARWOOD, Queens —Sunday was a bittersweet day for longtime customers of the Flagship Diner, which closed after decades serving up meals in Queens.
For 53 years, this 24-hour diner with a parking lot out front on Queens Boulevard was the center of so many peoples lives.
“The people, the staff, the owners, they treated us like family from day one,” Ronald Turner, a loyal customer told PIX11.
Customers would bring their children and grandchildren to the diner. They also made sure to come out to say goodbye.
“We could not not be here today to say goodbye,” Felicia Newton, a diner customer, told PIX11 News. “It is heartfelt, an emotional time."
For a year and a half, the diner’s owners have been battling with the landlord over a lease that was supposed to end next year so the property could be converted into a 7-story apartment building.
This day brought one of the owners to tears.
“We’re very sad, but it is relief that it is over,” Vincent Pupplo, co-owner of Flagship diner told PIX11. “There was a lot of pressure in the last year and a half so this is bittersweet.”
Vincent Ballard, one of the original Persuaders, has been coming here for 53 years for this sense of community and love.
“I have been coming here since I was teenager,” Ballard, 78, told PIX11 News.
Hale Storm, another long time customer, talked about streaking in front of the diner.
“When streaking became popular, I’d streak in front of the diner, naked as a jay bird and then I’d put my clothes back on, come in and have dinner,” he said.
Shakell Newton, 40, has been coming to Flagship Diner for her entire life.
“I don’t have any other place to go right now,” Ms. Newton told PIX11. “But I’m grateful this place is amazing. This place is like family.”