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Another openin’, another show — a space once home to the popular Theater District standby Thalia is set to become the newest location of the Carnegie Diner & Cafe.
The Carnegie Diner & Cafe first opened on W57th and 7th Avenue near Carnegie Hall in 2019 and has since expanded to include a new location in the diner capital of the world, New Jersey. Now, owner and operator Stathis Antonakopoulos has set his sights on the Theater District, hoping to bring top-notch American diner fare with a fine-dining twist to Broadway’s doorstep at the corner of W50th Street and 8th Avenue later this spring.
Featuring everything from early-bird buttermilk pancakes and omelets to late-night pastrami sandwiches and local nods like the “Times Square Burger” (a fried chicken and beef sandwich), Antonakopoulos wants patrons to experience the highest-quality diner food in a casual-yet-chic setting.
“I come from a fine dining background, so making some of these menu choices was very easy for me,” he said. “We use organic eggs and burgers because we really believe in the sustainability of the ingredients and giving people a higher quality experience — people appreciate it.”
Antonakopoulos, a decades-long New Yorker by way of Greece, knows well what diners are looking for. He grew up in the hospitality business, prior to moving to the city in 1999 to attend Baruch College. “I worked at my grandparents’ small boutique hotel that had a large restaurant, so while everyone else was enjoying the sea and sun in Greece, I was working as a waiter and getting to know what hospitality really is — making people happy,” he said. “It’s what I’ve tried to do in restaurants all of my life.”
After working in restaurants while studying, Antonakopoulos graduated with a degree in organizational management and earned a master’s degree in marketing and industrial psychology from New York Institute of Technology. “I found all of it useful to apply in the hospitality industry that I already knew really well,” he explained, adding that when the opportunity appeared to open the first Carnegie Diner in 2019, he was thrilled. “I always had it in my head that I wanted to create an upscale diner from scratch and introduce fine dining elements in a casual, All-American diner — and we did that with Carnegie.”
After successfully manning the original location and expanding to New Jersey despite the slings and arrows of COVID, Antonakopoulos was eager to bring the brand to one of his favorite New York neighborhoods — Hell’s Kitchen. “I’ve always loved the area,” he said. “I love the theaters and I believe it’s the heart and the soul of New York City. When this location became available and we managed to negotiate it with the landlord we said, ‘We absolutely we have to take it,’ because we wanted to be as close to Times Square as possible.”
As well as offering Carnegie’s well-loved sandwiches and the requisite diner triple-decker, Antonakopoulos plans to expand the 8th Avenue location to include two- and three-course prix fixe pre- and post-theater menus for audience members looking for a fuss-free bite. “We want to be associated with the neighborhood we’re in, and differentiate ourselves from our other locations,” he explained, adding that Carnegie’s Theater District outpost will focus not only on audience members but also on theater industry workers.
“We are setting up a beautiful bar and we’re going to be open until 2am, to really make this a theater industry space for everyone who works at the shows nearby,” said Antonakopoulos. Customers who present an ID with their theater occupation will receive a 10 percent discount. “We have a great respect for anyone who works in the theater,” he added. “For us, giving that discount is about building a relationship with the neighborhood and giving back.”
Looking ahead, he hopes not only to feed Broadway’s hungry professionals and patrons of the arts, but also to build partnerships with shows to cement Carnegie as the new Broadway hot-spot. Antonakopoulos eventually plans to expand the outreach to other neighborhood organizations like schools and advocacy groups, so that Carnegie can serve as a trusted member of the Hell’s Kitchen community in its own right. “A neighborhood is what makes a restaurant successful,” he said. “If you don’t respect the neighborhood where you are, then you know you lose focus. We’re trying to build a neighborhood restaurant where people are going to love our food, they’re gonna love our concept — and they’re gonna love our pastrami!”
The Carnegie Diner & Cafe will be located at 828 8th Avenue at the corner of W50th Street and hopes to open in May 2023.
As a long time Hell’s Kitchen resident of 44 years I really look forward to this new restaurant we’ve lost so many the last couple of years and this looks so wonderful
I’m looking forward to this addition to the neighborhood! We are still mourning the closure of Renaissance Diner!
Oh my god… Renaissance Diner!!!
What a loss!!!!
we can always use another good diner in the neighborhood!
It sounds like a well-thought-out plan Thank you for the information and good luck. Looking forward to a good pastrami sandwich.👍
Where will it also be in New Jersey?
Ate at the 57th and 7th location yesterday. This place is so good. Can’t wait to have a location a bit closer!
Dinner until 2AM — THANK YOU!!!
I frequented the Carnegie Diner as a late night stop in the ’60’s. What was its’ location then?
Looking forward to the opening. You better be telling the truth about how good your pastrami is 🙂
Am surprised Carnegie Deli hasn’t claimed trademark infringement? Nonetheless, wish them all the very best.
I live right across the Ave. Very excited for this!!
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