June 20, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
The Shalimar Diner in Rego Park is likely to move to Long Island and be converted into a brewery/diner, according to local preservationist Michael Perlman.
Perlman has joined forces with attorney Ronald Hariri and Lenny Dykstra, the former Mets baseball great, to ensure that the structure gets a new home in Riverhead, Long Island.
For Hariri, a Forest Hills native, the quest to save the building is a personal one. The lawyer said that he was raised on the diner’s egg creams when he grew up in nearby Forest Hills.
“Similar to ‘Nails’ (Dykstra’s nickname), the Shalimar Diner is a piece of Queens & NYC history,” Hariri said in a statement.
The Shalimar Diner closed its doors at 63-68 Austin Street in November 2018 due to rising rents and a decline in business and locals were dismayed to see the 45-year old Rego Park stalwart fall by the wayside.
Demolition plans were announced, but Perlman, who is chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, launched a campaign in April to help save the structure and give it a new lease of life.
According to Perlman, it is now just a matter of moving the building to its new home in Long Island and his “Save the Shalimar Diner” group is actively working with a local architect.
It was delivered to its current home in 1974 on the back a flatbed truck and has been described by Perlman as a “public institution” where customers would sit elbow to elbow with each other at the counter at almost any hour. It was one of several Greek-owned diners in the tri-state area in the 1970s.
The diner has also made its fair share of Hollywood cameos, featuring in the CBS drama Blue Bloods and 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Di Caprio.
Perlman has built a reputation of saving classic diners, previously saving both New York City’s Moonlight Diner and the Cheyenne Diner from going out of business, earning him the nickname “Diner Man.”