Something is cooking once again at 1920 E. Gun Hill Road; a large property best known for 37 years as the award-winning Pelham Bay Diner, which shut off its fryers for the last time at the end of January.
Community Board 11 said on Thursday, August 1 that the one-story building is going to be converted and repurposed into a medical facility over the next few months.
Throughout the summer, a green work fence has surrounded the vacant diner as its interior is being converted from booths and grills to examination tables and offices.
CB 11 also said it has received complaints about illegal dumping on and around the property since its closure.
A black garbage bag full of large recently caught, un-scaled fish was lying adjacent to the lot on its Ely Avenue side on Tuesday, July 23, in addition to other bags of trash.
New York commercial real estate mogul Jeff Sutton acquired the 29,800 square foot property along I-95 from the diner’s owners, Jerry Stefanitsis and his wife. The married operators labored for almost four decades before accepting Sutton’s offer.
Sutton’s group, Wharton Properties, rang up a $10.25 million tab for the Pelham Bay Diner and its surrounding parking lot, tip excluded.
The diner property that Sutton acquired is bordered on the east by a ‘hot sheets motel’, the Pelham Garden Motel, at 2410 Grace Avenue.
Sutton used some of the proceeds generated by the sale of four downtown Brooklyn properties worth $22 million to United American Land, according to Real Deal New York, to purchase the Gun Hill Road property, which is sited adjacent to The Home Depot.
Wharton boasts ownership of vibrant, high-ceiling commercial properties scattered throughout Midtown such as the Swarovski in Times Square and the famed Crown Building property at 730 Fifth Avenue, as well as properties in the Bronx, on its website.
Sutton’s growing Bronx portfolio is scattered throughout the borough. Wharton currently owns the 2-story Westchester Square Duane Reade building at 2641 E. Tremont Avenue, the Footaction property at 272 E. Fordham Road, Payless Shoe Source-occupied building at 2902 Third Ave, several 1-story commercial sites at 306 E. 204th Street and 3377 Eastchester Road, along with Hillside Post Office Station at 3480 Boston Road and a Rite Aid-leased property at 5825 Broadway. This will be Sutton’s first foray into medical-related property in the Bronx once completed.
In the late 1950s, that building was built to house the Gun Hill Manor, a popular catering venue for weddings, anniversaries and many other special occasions.
When the Stefanitsis’ opened their diner, it quickly became recognized for it’s tantalizing Greek specialties along with the popular ‘Pelham Bay Burger’ and ‘Bronx Skillet’ breakfast special, that fed many a hungry traveller coming off the New York State Thruway or the Hutchinson River Parkway.
Even former Mayor Michael Bloomberg chowed down at the diner some years ago, as did the likes of former Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Super Bowl champion, New York Jet, and Bronxite Willie Colon.
For the every-day Bronxite, the 24/7 diner was ‘the late night spot’ where you could bet that you’d run into someone you knew at any hour of the night.
Stefanistis and family still operate a waterfront Mediterranean Restaurant called Molos that overlooks Hells Kitchen at 1 Pershing Road in Weehawken, NJ.
Sutton did not return requests for comment before deadline.