The curtain comes down on Scobee Diner

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On Sunday night, November 28, 2010, it was a sad day for residents of Lakeville and Great Neck when Scobee Diner in neighboring Little Neck closed their doors for the very last time.  Since that date the site has remained vacant.  Sadly, this past Wednesday demolition actually began.  By the time you read this letter, the last remnants of Scobee will have succumbed to the wrecking ball.

Growing up in the neighborhood during the late 1960s and early 1970s going to Scobee was part of my life and of many others. Nineteen years ago, I met my wife on a blind date at a booth in Scobee. We had returned every year on the anniversary of our first meeting. My wife and I made our final visit on the last day of operations. How disappointing that the building stood vacant with no tenant.

On very cold winter nights or hot summer days, rather than eat at home we would walk a few blocks over to Scobee. Over time, we have gotten to know many of the staff on a first name basis. Eating at there was like joining your family for a good home cooked meal. Frequently, the portions were so generous that we had a doggy bag to take home providing a second meal the next day.

Over the past decades, we witnessed many other changes to our neighborhood. On Northern Boulevard, our old Bowling Alley, the original Scobee Dinner, the mini-Sears Roebuck on Great Neck Road, North Shore Bicycle, Little Neck Movie Theater, Bill’s news stand, the old 5 & 10 Virginia Variety, Patrick’s Pub, Lukes Bakery, Villa Bianca, Villa Bianca Bakery, Nelsons, several supermarkets, the Little Neck Inn along with other stores have come and gone.

Three years, our good friend and neighborhood icon Sal, owner of Sal’s Pizzeria, decided to retire. Many people didn’t realize how knowledgeable he was about life, business, government and politics. We always urged him to run for public office, but he had a full time job to worry about.

Walking down Northern Boulevard in the evenings, my wife and I see fewer people dining out and shopping, except on Friday and Saturday nights. Years ago, we would never see any vacant storefronts. Today, there are over 20.

In these difficult economic times, it is especially important to patronize our remaining local neighborhood businesses. My wife and I along with many Great Neck neighbors are regular patrons of the local community stores in neighboring Little Neck on Northern Boulevard from Glenwood Street at the city line to Marathon Parkway. Why drive and waste time? There are so many great local businesses. Leave your car in the driveway, save some gas, say hello to neighbors and take a walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise. We frequent Hot Bagels & Deli, North Shore Hardware, Little Neck Pharmacy, Joe’s Marathon Food Store, Queens County Savings Bank, Capital One Bank, Stop and Shop, King Wok Chinese Food, Aunt Bella’s Italian Restaurant and others.

We don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our local businesses survive. Don’t forget your cook and server at your favorite local neighborhood restaurant. We try to tip 20 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, round up to the next dollar. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, don’t forget to leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. Trust us, it is appreciated.

Remember these people are our neighbors. They work long hours, pay taxes and provide local employment. If we don’t patronize our local community stores and restaurants to shop and eat, they don’t eat either. This helps keep our neighbors employed and the local economy growing.

Let us toast the memories of good times gone by at Scobee Diner and make sure we don’t lose any more.