West 57th Area Restaurants are Thriving Once Again

Our East Side Observer once again ventures west and discovers the neighborhood around Billionaires Row has a dining scene that has come roaring back to life. And there is some good old school hospitality at one time honored stop.

| 01 Sep 2023 | 11:04

West 57th redux–Last column I left off at 57th and 7th. Well, I’m back to the vibrant, busy commercial and residential neighborhood that’s home to Carnegie Hall, Billionaire’s Row, Nordstrom’s, great access to public transporation, and what seems like a gazillion restaurants. A friend coming from lower Manhattan to meet me at the Carnegie Diner & Cafe at the northwest corner of 57th and 7th arrived in no time via the Q train and had only good things to say about the great and now not-so-new Q train that stops right at the corner. If any dining establishment can lay claim to transit accessibility, it’s the Carnegie Diner & Cafe located diagonally opposite Carnegie Hall and in clear sight of Central Park. It’s open seven days a week starting at 7 AM until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday. The perennial all-encompassing diner menu serves breakfast and brunch all day. There’s also lunch and dinner and a menu chockablock with entrees that include a luscious Lobster Benedict and a to-die-for combo of a half-pound of corned beef and half pound of pastrami on rye with mustard and sauerkraut. You name it, they’ve got it, and look for their 24-layer chocolate cake. That’s all about the diner. We didn’t get a Cafe menu, but there were Happy Hour drinks. My Espresso Martini wouldn’t necessarily get the highest grade, but I did have a second. My friend looked happy with his beer. The atmosphere is pure diner love it or not, you won’t leave without stepping back in time. While the restaurant design is in keeping with the diner of yesteryear–casual, comfortable, booth seating and good-sized tables–the menu is today-friendly with a chilled and chunky lobster roll as well as a full plant-based menu and the sine qua non of today’s dining, outdoor seating. And servers are pleasant and accommodating.

Carnegie Diner & Cafe’s owner, Stathis Antonakopoulos, is also their Executive Chef. He began his life in the hospitality industry at 18, in his native Greece, where he worked at his grandfather’s hotel and restaurant. In addition to owning Carnegie Diner & Cafe, Stathis is CEO of Carnegie Hospitality which owns and operates Pizza & Shakes and Carnegie Catering.

The restaurant scene at West 57th Street and 7th and beyond has become a hub for restaurants owned by Shelly Fireman’s Hospitality Group and now Stathis Antonakopoulos’s Carnegie Hospitality. Several of Fireman restaurants span the 7th Avenue block from 57th to 56th Streets and include Redeye Grill, Trattoria Dell’Arte, and Brooklyn Diner which is located on 57th Street just west of 7th Ave. He also owns Bond 45 in the Theater District. Stathis’s Pizza & Shakes is down the street and, several storefronts from Carnegie Diner & Cafe on 57th Street. He also owns another Carnegie Diner & Cafe on 8th Avenue on the corner of 50th Street.

It all looks like empire building to me. But that’s another Manhattan restaurant story. The Sinanaj Brothers own several Empire Steakhouse restaurants in Manhattan–on East 50th Street, West 49th and West 54th. Their Empire Burger House is located next to the East 50th Street location.

Community Commemorative Event–East Side 9-11 Ceremony - Lighting the Way, John Finley Walk at Carl Schurz Park. When: Sunday, September 10, 2023 @ 12 noon Where: Carl Schurz Park entrance, 86th and East End Avenue. Wheelchair access at 84th and 87th Streets. This event continues a tradition from the first years after 9/11 that drew together people from across the community and city. There’s music, poetry and reflections.

Mark the calendar–For a Landing Day Celebration: 369 Years Since the Arrival of the First Jewish Community in America. Invitation by Manhattan Jewish Historical Initiative, The Battery Conservancy, NY Board of Rabbis. Where: Tercentenary Flagstaff at Peter Minuit Plaza (State and Whitehall Streets) When: Wednesday, September 13, 2023 @ 5:30 PM. Tour to follow ceremony. Landing Day marks the arrival of 23 Sephardi Jews during September 1654 in New Amsterdam (now Lower Manhattan). They were the first group of refugees fleeing persecution from the Portuguese after their conquest of Brazil. They were the starting point of the Jewish story in America. The Jewish-American Tercentenary Flagstaff was dedicated on May 20, 1955 in honor of the memory of those 23 men, women and children who landed in September 1654 and founded their First Jewish community in North America. A bronze plaque, sculpted by Abram Belskie, sits on a base in Peter Minuit Plaza just north of the Staten Island Ferry entrance. A timely moment to remember.

Partnering in the event are Council Member Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Hadassah New York, Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America which is in formation.