BY LUIS GRONDA
Sitting in the heart of Flushing, Kane’s Diner is one of the last reminders of the more industrial neighborhood it used to be and its adaptation to the influx of immigrants and business into the area.
Kane’s opened the same year the Queens Tribune was founded, in 1970, and is also celebrating its 44th anniversary this year. It has been in the Kane family for its entire existence.
George Kanes, the current owner of the antique-style diner, took over operations 29 years ago, but worked alongside his father, Ernest, since he was five years old.
He attributes the diner’s longevity to the way it treats its customers who are treated like friends and family, and its ability to persevere and remain in the area.
Kanes said many of the businesses that used to be around in the 1970s and 80s have gone out of business because of the rising property values in Flushing. A lot of the industrial establishments have made way for shopping centers, namely the Sky View Center, and bars to attract younger people.
“You’ve got to be really resilient because life and business throw you curveballs everyday,” he said. “Every day is a battle. It’s like a boxing match.”
The addition of the Skyview Center has added a tremendous amount of business to the area and has shifted the economic hub in Flushing closer to where the diner is located on College Point Boulevard between Maple and Pople Avenues. This, in turn, has helped his business, with the eatery being only a short drive away from the economic center in the area.
“This is considered downtown Flushing now,” Kanes said. “It’s a much more commercial area. We were in the boondocks back in the day.”
They have adapted their menu to fit the influx of people that have moved into the neighborhood, Kanes said, offering many different types of food, including various quesadillas, pasta and pork chops. Their most famous dish is the steak and eggs combo, which only costs $9.
Kanes said that while much of the food can be bought at any other diner in the City, it is the personal service and the old-school look Kane’s has that separates it from the rest of the 24-hour eateries in the five boroughs.
“You leave here better than when you walked in,” he said.
Pictures of the many famous people that have eaten in Kane’s are peppered throughout the diner, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, former mayor Michael Bloomberg and news anchor Brian Williams.
Among the community work the diner has done in the past includes donating food to churches in the area, as well as other neighborhoods, such as St. Demetrios Church in Jamaica.
The diner used to be called “the funny flag diner” according to Kanes because of the 30 American flags that used to fly above the eatery. Now there are only five flags, but they remain a key feature in the diner’s appearance.
“On the day we sell, I got to take the flags with me,” he said.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.