The singing coming from inside a diner in the center of the Theater District and the line outside of it have been gone for quite some time, and now it's unclear if they'll come back at all due to the impact of the coronavirus.
Ellen's Stardust Diner has been an institution and a popular tourist spot since it began serving meals and entertainment at 51st and Broadway in 1987. But a notice posted on the diner's door that says it owes the landlord more than $618,000 in back rent threatens its return.
The paper said if the rent isn't paid by Aug. 7, Stardust's owner will have to give up the beloved diner.
The restaurant's wait staff who brings customers meals with a side of music and performance haven't been working there for four months since COVID-19 pandemic shut down New York City.
"It was just this growing sense of uncertainty and fear, really," server Vince Fazzolari described.
Another worker said she last heard from the diner in April, informing her that the closure would go on longer than initially expected. She and her colleagues have not heard anything else since then.
"We don’t want want to speculate on what that means. We hope it will come back as soon as possible," said server Kevin Ray.
The coronavirus has killed more than 25,000 people in the state of New York, and over 20,000 of them were in New York City alone. The pandemic has also taken a massive toll on businesses. A new report by The Partnership for New York City estimates that a third of the city's 230,000 small businesses may never recover.
For now, the lights are still on inside Stardust Diner. NBC New York has reached out to the diner's owner in numerous ways but hasn't gotten a response.
There are more than 200 people who work at the restaurant and their hope to return is still as bright as the neon lights that surround the diner. In the meantime, the staff has started a relief fund for coworkers who are struggling financially. As of Tuesday night, the fundraiser has reached more than half of its $50,000 goal.