On Sunday, a Hillcrest door will shut for the last time. Gone will be the vampy retro outfits, the beehive hairdos and the ladies in latticed black stockings. No, The Flame isn’t closing. The Corvette Diner, a Fifth Avenue mainstay since 1987, is moving out.
Say goodbye to the sassy, flair-wearing waitresses who rain the table with straws when you sit down, and shoot Bazooka bubble gum over your leftovers when they bring the check.
But Hillcrest’s loss is the gain of Liberty Station. Sometime in June—Cohn Restaurant Group co-owner Lesley Cohn remains mysteriously mum about some details yet to be worked out—Corvette Diner will reform as The Corvette Diner & Gamers’ Garage. The new location will be twice the size as the old place, with seating for 242 and a new 5,000-square-foot arcade. There’ll also be private dining rooms, themed areas and a full bar for adults.
Cohn says as many of the knickknacks as possible that adorn the walls in Hillcrest will make the move—especially the Elvis and Marilyn tchotchkes, but Mr. Universe is too tall for the lower ceiling in Liberty Station.
The kid in all of us will miss the memories made in the Hillcrest location (though adults will revel in the idea of free parking at Liberty Station). The new spot will surely be a success. David and Lesley Cohn are restaurant savants.
On the other hand, I’m a sappy pappy who twice celebrated his daughter’s birthday at the diner. We parents grimaced at the din created by three simultaneous pre-teen scream fests. We watched blank-faced while our little girls had their hair garishly styled with red straws by a 1950s version of Elvira the Waitress. And we joked that we’d hopefully not have to endure two versions of the hourly, staff-led rendition of The Chicken Dance.
Truth be told, if I pretended to mind all that jazz, it was because my inner child would’ve rather been shaking my booty, too, Chicken-Dance style. Corvette Diner will simultaneously reside in my memory bank as a vicarious skip backwards in age, and a culinary playground where my daughter smiled a lot.
No, I’m not getting red-eyed with paternal reminiscence. That’s a welt—from being lovingly beaned by a flying rectangle of Bazooka.