Karayiannis insists that the diner is not closing later this year, despite rumors circulating regarding its future.
In a column in this paper in January about future development in Forest Hills, it was suggested the lease for the diner would be up in November, and that a high-rise development would take its place at 63-68 Austin Street in Rego Park.
But Karayiannis disputes the claims, stating that the diner still has two years left on its lease and that the rumor has caused damage to his business.
“It’s my business to negotiate the lease after two years,” he said, adding that if he started to negotiate a deal so soon, there will be an even steeper rise in rent.
He also argued that a 25-story apartment building could not be constructed in the spot due to zoning laws, and “the highest a building can be built up is two floors.”
“How are you going to even build a 25-to-35-story building here?” said Karayiannis. “You would need a lot that’s four times this size.”
Shalimar Diner, which opened in 1974, has been a staple in the community despite changes to the neighborhood’s growing population.
“People come here, they eat and they have a nice time,” he said. “The area is very nice, clean and it’s safe. Even if there are changes in the neighborhood, nothing changes here.”
Karayiannis said what sets Shalimar Diner apart from other diners in the area is that it has always been a family diner.
“This is a family place,” he said. “We have families who come here four or five days a week and they all know each other.”
He maintained that the diner isn’t going anywhere, and wants to assure customers that they don’t need to worry about it closing.
“People who have been coming for over 40 years are asking if the place is closing, and they are also calling the diner to find out if the rumors are really true, but it’s not true,” Karayiannis said.