The declining state of diner dining

A rather disheartening article in the week's New York magazine, The Death of the Diner: What's killing the cheeseburger deluxe?

Sad but true: The classic New York coffee shop is fading fast. The recession is part of the problem; according to Pan Gregorian Enterprises, a purchasing co-op for coffee shops and diners that has 475 local members, revenues were down 20 percent last year. But there are other forces at work, from skyrocketing rents to Starbucks hegemony, that are forcing coffee-shop owners…into retirement.

Some of my favorite Manhattan places to eat are diners: in Tribeca I frequently had lunch at the Square Diner (at the intersection of Leonard and West Broadway), closer to my hood I like Joe Jr's on Sixth Avenue and the Bonbonniere on Eighth Avenue. And whenever I go to the movies up on 34th Street, I like to have a pre-theatre meal at the Cheyenne, at Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street.

One of the things I missed most about the east coast during my tenure in San Francisco were diners, and one of the highlights of my first return to New York City after an absence of many years was our trip to the now-demolished Jones Diner. It might have been the final push I needed to move back east. I've never tasted a better grilled cheese, or a worse cup of coffee, or had a nicer time on a cold winter's afternoon with the light fading into a cruddy January grey. There's a lot I could do without in this world, but I can't say that I want to live a life without my diners.