The diner was constructed by the Fodero Dining Car Company and operated as Manhattan diner until being abandoned some years later, the diner wasn’t refurbished until 1976.
The Empire opened on February 29, 1976 (Leap Day). Additions included a stylized Empire State Building outline on its roof. It became a city fixture and an artists’ nexus for over thirty years. The restaurant closed on May 15, 2010, and The Highliner opened briefly in its space that same year. The restaurant ragain eopened under the name Empire Diner, under executive chef Amanda Freitag, in January 2014, and closed after less than a year of service in December 2015.
Empire Diner reopened in April of 2017 under executive chef Jestin Feggan of Cafeteria, a Chelsea favorite for over twenty-five years, and its managing partner Stacy Pisone. It’s best incarnation to date, Empire Diner offers thoughtfully prepared takes on diner favorites in a chic, retro-modern setting and is once again a cherished oasis in the West Chelsea neighborhood.