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Vegas Diner cashes out: Jewel of Bensonhurst closes after 35 years

Last supper: Vegas Diner regulars, from left, Greg Rapisarda, Joan Corloto, and Natile Fiore came out for one last meal when the neighborhood staple closed its doors for good on June 25.
Brooklyn Daily
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Vegas Diner closed its doors for the last time on June 25 after serving Southern Brooklynites round-the-clock nosh for the last 35 years.

The iconic diner on 86th Street and 16th Avenue has attracted a loyal clientele since it opened in 1982. But the quartet of aging owners decided it was time to move on, and long-time customers came out it force to say their goodbyes to their old haunt and its staff.

“We were trying to decide where to eat, and I said, ‘Let’s just go one more time,’ ” said Bensonhurster Joan Corloto, who has been going to Vegas for its succulent pork chops and friendly service twice a week since the eatery opened. “It’s very depressing that it’s gone. It’s like a funeral, because there is no other good diner around here.”

Customers flocked to the eatery for its lengthy menu that offered classic diner fare of burgers and milkshakes, but also swordfish fillets and juicy steaks for an evening of fine dining. And the disco fries — steak-cut fries with melted mozzarella and gravy on the side — were a customer favorite, especially after a wild night out.

For the last two weeks, diner-goers packed into the plush booths to bid adieu to the neighborhood staple and the staff who had become like family over the years. It’s touching, but tough saying goodbye, said one of the co-owners.

“We’ve have so many customers here — some were kids and now they’re adults — we’ve seen them grow up,” said Teddy Vlamis on closing day. “We’ve had a lot of people come say goodbye. I see guys, they say, ‘Teddy, good luck, we’ll miss you,’ and I say, ‘I’m going to miss you.’ ”

Even though the owners’ retirement is the driving force behind the closure, Vlamis admitted that business ain’t what it used to be.

“Kids used to party at the clubs in Bay Ridge and we would be packed at 3–5 am,” said Vlamis. “But those clubs have closed, and now with the internet, people don’t go out as much. It’s not the same. It’s just like what I’ve been saying, everything comes to an end and nothing is forever.”

The owners are in talks to sell the property to a developer who would raze the eatery and erect housing, according to Vlamis.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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