NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Patrons come to Orion Diner in Murray Hill for the food but stay for the people. Isn't that what makes the diner so quintessentially New York?
But sadly this home away from home for so many of us is changing; disappearing. It is estimated that only a decade ago there were over a thousand diners just like the Orion across the city. Now Health Department records show just under 400.
And you can probably guess why.
"The short answer is the rent is too damn high," Elstein of Crain's New York Business says. "So diners, like most restuarants and stores have leases that go 10 or 20 years and if you signed a lease 10 or 20 years ago, and it's coming due now, the rent's going to be a lot higher."
Manhattan has been hit hardest -- in the last several years losing neighborhood favorites like Lyric Diner in Gramercy, La Parisienne near Columbus Circle, Market Diner in Hell's Kitchen and Cafe Edison in Times Square.
Elstein says diners are getting gobbled up at other boroughs, too. He says the last great diners are in Brooklyn and Queens, but he worries that in the next few years as rents go up those diners will get slowly forced out, too.
The owner of the Orion worries about the future of diners across the city, asking "how are they going to pay the bills?".