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Diner disaster! St. Claire to close

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Humble pie no more.

The (old) New St. Clair Restaurant on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street has been sold for an upgrade — and locals are already feeling heartburned.

Spiro Katehis, owner of the Carroll Gardens Classic Diner, has bought the 40-year-old hash palace from the Costa family, which owned it since 1967. The diner will close at the end of September for a trendy makeover expected to take several months.

Katehis said he plans to keep the family-run diner’s name and its affordable, sausage-and-eggs fare, but lose its décor, which can be safely described as “1970s Queens basement,” thanks to a reliance on crystalline chandeliers and taxidermy fish.

“You can put the same salad in a new dish and it feels totally different,” said the new owner. “We want to keep the menu, but make [the restaurant look] a little more trendy, make it feel more like a part of the street.”

The coming change has already inspired at least one mournfully buttery last breakfast.

“I went this morning, two eggs over well done with home fries,” said a morose Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association. “It’s a place you go when you need something quick, when you need something slow. We have community meetings there. I hope the new people are as good to the neighborhood as [the old owners were].”

The Costa family opened the New St. Clair soon after migrating from Cyprus in 1967. Since then, the St. Clair fed a steady stream of local residents, merchants and police and corrections officers from the House of Detention across the street.

When the 11-story jail closed in 2003, business slowed, but the rest of the neighborhood had grown so expensive that the diner still enjoyed a special place in the hearts and budgets of local workers.

“I come whenever the boss lets me. I hope the place doesn’t change too much,” said one uniformed 76th Precinct police officer, speaking over a large platter of egg salad.

Updated 4:32 pm, July 9, 2018
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