Neptune to close? Owner says ‘not yet’ 1

Rezoning efforts could shut down Neptune Diner in Astoria.

reet and Hoyt Avenue could result in Neptune Diner, which has been a staple of the Astoria community for approximately 40 years, serving its last dish in the area.

When asked about the diner’s possible closure, owner Peter Katsihtis had one thing to say: “Not yet.” 

The eatery, located at 31-05 Astoria Blvd. North, serves Greek meals, Mediterranean dishes, bagels and classic Americana items like milk shakes, according to Neptune Diner’s menu. 

Forty-seven city councilmembers voted in favor of rezoning the area, while two were absent and two abstained from voting last month, according to legistar.council.nyc.gov. That would allow three local developers, MDM Development Group, Astoria Associated and 31 Neptune LLC, which are working in collaboration with each other, to transform 24 adjacent lots, including the site of the diner, into a mixed-use apartment complex, according to newyorkyimby.com, a real estate website. There will be four towers. 

Site 1 would have 51 units (up to 15 of which affordable), Site 2 would have 161 (48 affordable), Site 3 would have 83 units (25 affordable) and Site 4 would have 94 units (28 affordable), according to the real estate website. Site 1 would have a daycare center and six parking spaces. Site 2 would have a senior center and 61 parking spaces. Site 3 would have a youth center and 19 parking spaces. The final site would have ground-floor retail space and 37 parking spaces. 

There is no architect of record, according to newyorkyimby.com, but construction could last up to six years and is set for a 2028 completion date. 

The diner would make way for Site 1, a 63,252-square-foot building, which would contain 11,322 square feet of commercial area, according to newyorkyimby.com. The daycare center would be 3,216 square feet and the residential area would be 48,714 square feet. 

Community Board 1 rejected the plan in October by a vote of 25-4, as reported by Patch.com. However, Borough President Donovan Richards issued an approval on Oct. 29, which is contingent on the developers re-evaluating the heights of the buildings along with other commendations.

Site 1 would be 11 stories, Site 2 is 14, Site 3 is 12 and the final site is not mentioned on the real estate website. 

Richard Khuzami, the president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association and a CB 1 member, voted in favor of the zone change. 

“It’s been an institution in this area,” said Khuzami, who has worked as a percussionist in several Greek nightclubs in the area. Years ago, he said, “I would go there with the band to eat breakfast at 4 or 5 a.m.”

While Khuzami enjoyed eating there, ultimately, he believes the new people coming into the area are not that interested in Greek dining or what he described as the Neptune's "American comfort food," while the Greek population that goes back generations is moving to more suburban areas like Long Island, New Jersey and Bayside. 

In 2020, nationalherald.com, a Greek-American publication, spoke with an unnamed manager who said the diner might relocate to Bayside. 

“There was a competition for best diner and it used to win every year,” Khuazmi added. “You are getting a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s that are moving in the area ... There is a changing of politics with people like [U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán winning elections; before it used to be the Vallones, who were conservative Democrats, and also the Latino community is the largest ethnic group here now.”

Census data from censusreporter.org depicts the median age in Astoria to be 36.1, and while it remains 50 percent white, there is a 27 percent Latino or Hispanic population. People from Latin America also make up the largest foreign-born group in the area at 36 percent. Immigrants from Asia and Europe tie at 29 percent. People from Africa, Oceania and other parts of North America round out the other 6 percent.

CORRECTIONS

This article originally stated that Richard Khuzami holds a position that he no longer holds on Community Board 1. It also was unclear about when he and his bandmates would go to diners in the early-morning hours and did not accurately characterize the cuisine at the Neptune Diner. We regret the errors.

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