End of an era: Flushing’s Palace Diner closing

| brennison@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison
THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

Palace Diner in Flushing will close soon.

The faithful frequenters of Flushing’s Palace Diner will have to find a new haunt once the local landmark serves its last meal after more than three decades in the neighborhood.

The diner, which sits along the Long Island Expressway on the corner of Main Street and Horace Harding Expressway and has been a neighborhood mainstay for 35 years, will close its doors for good on Friday, December 30.

“Friday is going to be another very emotional day,” said owner George Mantzikos.

Hostess Eva Ballas, who has worked at the diner for 20 years, said Friday will “be the worst day of [her] life.”

“Everybody is going to come say goodbye. I’m upset.  All my customers are crying,” Ballas said.  “I’m crying, too.”

The spacious diner created a cozy atmosphere over the years through devoted diners, a dedicated, long-tenured staff and good food.

One by one, the loyal customer base — called angels by Mantzikos — that built up over the years has been making the pilgrimage back to the neighborhood cornerstone to bid adieu.

One customer even flew up from Florida to say goodbye.

“There is no place like this place,” said Hedije Haliti, who has frequented the diner for 30 years.  “I’m so sad to see it go.”

Haliti, who stopped by the diner — which is down the block from her job at Dime Savings Bank — a couple of times each week, said she will miss the Greek omelets and the familiar faces the most.

The diner will be replaced by a Chinese restaurant.

Mantzikos said he has not decided what his next plans are, but after nearly 30 years of running the diner, he intends to take some time off to rest.

“I’m going to miss being in the diner, seeing all these people, working with my people,” said Mantzikos.

“We had a good run,” Ballas said.  “Every good thing comes to an end.”

After working at the diner for two decades, Ballas found it difficult to determine one memory that stands out above all the fond recollections.

“It was my second home,” she said.  “That’s my memory — I’m going to miss my second house.”