New York City

Iconic Ellen's Stardust Diner Avoids Shutdown, Will Reopen on Oct. 1

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The singing and dining inside an iconic Theater District staple are set to return this week after six months and a close call.

Just one day after all indoor restaurants are allowed to reopen in New York City, workers at Ellen's Stardust Diner will seat and sing to customers once again on Thursday, Oct. 1, Artistic Director Scott Barbarino confirmed in a Facebook post.

Waitstaff will be wearing face shields and are they will be "significantly distanced from diners," Barbarino said.

Also, as required by the state, all customers will have to wear masks and submit to temperature checks, and one member of each party will have to give contact tracing information.

The world-famous institution and a popular tourist spot that has been serving meals with entertainment at 51st and Broadway since 1987 was warned in July that if it didn't pay its landlord more than $618,000 in back rent, the owners and customers will have to say goodbye to the diner forever.

Ellen's Stardust Diner could have suffered the same fate as many restaurants across New York City that couldn't afford to stay afloat during the pandemic. A report by The Partnership for New York City estimated that a third of the city's 230,000 small businesses may never recover.

There were more than 200 people who worked at the restaurant before COVID-19 but with NYC restaurants only allowing indoor dining 25% indoor dining capacity, Barbarino says the restaurant still hasn't gotten all the employees back yet.

Some of the restaurant's wait staff who brings customers meals with a side of music and performance haven't been working there for months since they were deemed non-essential business by government and health officials.

"It was just this growing sense of uncertainty and fear, really," server Vince Fazzolari described to NBC New York back in July.

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