How the Empire Diner was born

My aunt remembers my grandfather waking her up in the middle of night so she could see the Empire Diner arrive. Police wouldn’t permit the diner to be driven across the George Washington Bridge during the day because it took up too many lanes.

Nathan Heller in front of the Empire Diner when it opened in 1934. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Guttman.)

When I’d visit New York over the years, I’d visit the Empire and sit at the counter. Instead of thinking about Harry Connick Jr. playing piano in the corner as he did when he first came to New York, I imagined my mother eating fried chicken and apple pie on a Sunday night, maybe not too far from where I was sitting. I imagined my grandfather at the grill cooking up eggs because they were short-handed that day.

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Writer, journalist, author of nonfiction book Equine ER. Public radio reporter.

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leslieguttman

leslieguttman

Writer, journalist, author of nonfiction book Equine ER. Public radio reporter.

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