It doesn't pay to post your "Bring Out Your Dead" lost landmarks early.
I tally up the new members in the New York Cultural Heritage Graveyard on Thursday, and what happens? Oldtimers drop dead on Friday. Earlier today, we learned that Upper East Side red sauce joint Gino's may close by year's end. Now Midtown Lunch informs us that Diamond District hidden gem, the Diamond Dairy luncheonette, has gone the way of Luchow's.
If you didn't know about Diamond Dairy, you just didn't know about it. It was on the mezzanine level, in the back of a jewelry exhange on 47th Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues. There used to be a sign indicating its presence on the front door of the exchange, but not in recent years. To get to the narrow diner, you had to enter through the eastern doors of the exchange, walk past several diamond dealers, go up a flight of stairs that snaked up the left wall and turn to the right. There was a zigzagging counter with stools to the left of the room as you walked in and some small tables along the right. Nothing fancy, just classic. You could see the diners from the buying floor if you cared to look up and through a low glass wall. The waitresses were old and matronly and grumpy. Dishes like baked beans and potato pancakes and tuna salad sandwiches were served on super small paper plates.
I loved this place. I loved being in the know, aware that it existed and where it was. I loved the New Yorky feel you got just sitting there over your chicken soup. Prices were cheap, the food was homey. I was there on one classic occasion when Jackie Mason strolled in and regaled the entire place. Sixty years in business this place was.
But here's the bitter irony that will haunt me for years to come. I was there, just ten days ago. Just by chance, I turned down 47th Street and passed the exchange. I recalled the diner, looked at my watch, saw it was 3 PM, and thought "Why Not?" Late lunch! I went in, skipped up the stairs, but the place was empty. The lunch rush had just finished and the waitress was wiping down the counter. I was too late. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll have lunch another day." I took the above picture and left. (I'll wager it's the last picture of the place taken by a blogger.)
If only I had passed by a half hour earlier.