Friday, August 10, 2012

Empire State Diner

The photo above c. 1949 looks south across Hempstead Turnpike and shows the Empire State Diner, a West Hempstead landmark during the '40s '50s and '60s. The diner was owned and operated by a Cathedral Gardens resident named Charles Efthinion, along with his brother Phillip who lived in nearby Hempstead Gardens.  

The Efthinion Bros. ran the restaurant until 1963, whereafter they relocated down the road to the southwest corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Nassau Blvd (current location of a Sleepy's), and opened a restaurant called "The Country Gentleman".  That restaurant was built on a site that for years, dating back to the 19th century, was occupied by William Stringham's general store and was once the central location of the long-forgotten Hamlet of Munson. Below is a "now" shot of the old Empire State Diner location. 

In 1964, the diner was demolished and in November of that year, ground was broken to build the first of many IHOPs on Long Island.  That restaurant continues to operate at the same location, nearly 50 years later, one of the few original businesses from that era.  (Below is an ad that appeared in the May 13, 1965 edition of Newsday).

The vacant building in the "now" shot was built in 1966 and represented S Klein's first foray into the automotive and tire business.  The building boasted 12 bays and the operators originally envisioned a capacity of servicing up to 280 cars per day.  What they did not envision was that S Klein wouldn't last another 10 years after that.

 The S Klein Tire & Auto Center became Korvette's Tire & Auto Center which then became Tires Incorporated.  This building may well be the record-setter for the duration of a vacant commercial building in West Hempstead.  (No, the temporary occupancy as the campaign headquarters of former Town Supervisor Greg Peterson's failed election bid for County Executive in 2005 does not count for filling the vacancy).

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