May 29, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A local diner has shuttered after a last-ditch effort to salvage the business fell short.
The Forest Hills Diner, located at 68-60 Austin St., closed last week after the economic fallout from COVID-19 ended its 10-year run.
The long time owner Benito Galvan decided to quit the business in March prompted by the shutdown, according to Adriana Morote, who runs the neighboring Amar Peruvian restaurant.
Morote took over the diner in April but decided to close it for good last week.
Galvan, she said, depended heavily on customers who worked in the Austin Street area and with them working from home he decided to shut down. She said that Galvan was close to retirement and did not want to take on debt to keep his eatery going.
The diner employed 10 people and had three drivers when Galvan closed, Morote said. Two workers retired when it shut down and another subsequently lost his life to COVID-19. The remaining staff were left without a job.
The diner’s landlord then asked Morote to take a shot at running the joint for a month, rent-free, to see if she could turn a profit. She took the offer.
“I agreed because the people who worked there are my friends and I didn’t want them to lose their jobs,” Morote said.
“But I realized how much money the business was losing and I wouldn’t be able to pay their bills or salaries,” she said.
Morate said that the only way she could have kept the diner open was to use money from her own family-run restaurant – which is already under financial strain – so she chose to close the diner.