I'm not quite as good at keeping track of all the closings and openings of local businesses as some of my fellow members of the "NYC blog mafia" (specifically EV Grieve ... he's got a lock-down on that beat), but when it comes to my own neighborhood, it's hard not to notice big changes.
Then again, what is a "big change"? Nowadays, things change so quickly and so dramatically that upheaval is the new normal. Places close up shop and gut themselves almost as fast as they open. All too often, new shops or bistros will shutter so swiftly that I never even get the chance to properly check them out. There are almost too many examples of this to cite.
In any case, I was legitimately stopped dead in my tracks the other day by one impending closing. Evidently, the University Diner (or, technically, the University Restaurant) on the northeast corner of East 12th and University Place is up for rent.
When I first moved to East 12th Street in 1996, the diner in question was pretty much my only link to survival (well, that and the Cedar Tavern). It's not that it's the greatest diner in the city (by a loooooong shot), but it was my local. When I moved a few blocks to the south in 2002, I still regularly patronized University Diner (instead of my new local, that being what I would consider the frankly dispiriting Silver Spurs on 9th and Broadway).
Anyway, I can't really wrap my head around it beyond the inevitable assumption that their rent must have quadrupled. The place is always pretty packed, and they do a consistent business, although maybe I'm just projecting.
If a solid, dependable joint like the University Restaurant can't hold it down, what hope is there for the rest of the city?