After paying his bill for a few egg sandwiches and coffees, Chris Garafolo, a Scobee Grill customer for 20 years, embraced co-owner Sal Winder and asked if he was going to be okay after they close their doors for the last time on Sunday, November 28. Winder nodded, with a saddened look on his face.
“I’m not getting my breakfast at the bagel store, so I’ll be bringing food [to work] with me now,” said Garafolo, who has worked across the street at the OTB for 20 years. “I eat breakfast and lunch here every day.”
Since the Scobee Grill announced that they will be closing for good, regular and fair-weather customers have flocked back to the landmark eatery with the hope of savoring one last meal. One couple – who remembers when the location’s name was changed to Scobee in 1965 – drove hours to pay tribute to one of their favorite restaurants.
“We came all the way from New Jersey for the grand finale,” said former Queens resident Lorraine Ritter, who enjoyed a buttered bagel and coffee with her husband Mel.
Harry Pallas, co-owner of Scobee for 41 years, maintains that he offered a reasonable price to purchase the property at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Little Neck Parkway but the property owners were “way off on their price.”
“We tried to buy the property but we were very far apart. We weren’t even close,” said Pallas, who did not speak about the landowners from Brooklyn. As a principal owner of Scobee, Pallas had to tell his employees that their last night of service would be the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Eva Bedell, one of approximately 60 employees, said that one week was not enough time to say goodbye.
“It’s like a family here and to lose everybody on such short notice upsets me,” said Bedell, a server at Scobee for 25 years. She’s not sure what she will do for work but knows that it will not involve food service. “I’m getting out of this business. It’s just too much.”
Customers continued to line up for booths and volunteered kind words about the staff, food and family atmosphere provided by Scobee throughout the years.
“I’m not a diner person, but I feel really comfortable here. The food is great and I will really miss it,” said Linda Rovegno, who has lived in Great Neck for 31 years.
Pallas does not know what the future will hold for the property in Douglaston but was apologetic to all those that will miss Scobee.
“We are sorry we have to go. We are very close to a lot of people. We have regulars that are here twice a day, some of them,” said Pallas. “All I can do is say goodbye.”