Yesterday, Ephemeral New York took a wistful look at iconic diner signs. While the Cavalier Restaurant in Jackson Heights is more of a supper club than a diner (think red tablecloths and candles), its fifties sign is certainly iconic — in fact, it’s one of our favorites in the city. Sadly, the Times reports that owner Alfonso Londoño, a Dominican who bought the restaurant from its Italian owners in the early seventies, will close it on Sunday because he can’t afford a doubling of the rent. From the Jackson Heights Life message board (where unsubstantiated rumors of a Barnes & Noble are flying), here’s the owner’s heartrending farewell letter.
To the loyal patrons of the Cavalier Restaurant:
It is with sincere regret that we must announce the end of an era. Due to the greed and insensitivity of developers, realtors and landlords, the Cavalier will be forced to close its doors after 60 years. This family operated institution has been an icon of the Jackson Heights community since 1950. For thousands it has been the place where families gathered for support and comfort after the loss of a friend or family member; gathered to celebrate the birth of a child, the wedding of two loved ones or to recognize the rights of passage of a child into young adulthood. It has been a gathering spot for families during holidays, a friendly and affordable stop for our seniors and a social spot where members of the Jackson Heights community came to relax and spend countless enjoyable hours talking, listening to live music and enjoying the diversity of our wonderful neighborhood. We would like to extend a final invitation to all of our loyal customers to pay their final respects, and offer a final opportunity to reminisce about what this neighborhood institution has meant to them. Similarly it will give its owners a final chance to express their heartfelt gratitude for the many years of loyalty and support shown to us by our beloved patrons. Please join us for our final farewell week before our doors close on Sunday February 7, 2010 which is Super Bowl Sunday. On Super Bowl we will have a free buffet at half time and a Coors Light Promotion from 6 to 8 pm for those who would like to watch the game with us on our final day! We hope to see all of you for one final opportunity to let you know how much you have meant to our family and to raise one final toast to the end of a Jackson Heights cultural institution.
Sincerely, The Cavalier