Former New York Mets bad boy Lenny “Nails” Dykstra has joined a new team hoping to grant the shuttered Shalimar Diner in Rego Park a new lease on life on Long Island.
The beloved eatery permanently closed its doors last year after 45 years when the property and an adjoining lot were sold in a $6.5 million all-cash deal with developers.
In April, Rego-Forest Preservation Council founder and chairman Michael Perlman launched an effort to find a taker for the classic structure for zero dollars and move it to a new location before the wrecking ball arrives.
Enter Dykstra, the star outfielder on the 1986 World Champion Mets squad and three-time all-star with the Philadelphia Phillies. He joined forces with Manhattan attorney Ronald Hariri and Perlman to relocate the Shalimar Diner to Riverhead, Long Island, where it would likely reopen as a brewery and diner.
“Similar to Nails, the Shalimar Diner is a piece of Queens and New York City history,” Hariri said. “We are working with an architect.”
Hariri said he was raised on egg creams at the Shalimar when he lived in Forest Hills near Perlman, the preservationist and historian.
“These places are cultural cornerstones of the neighborhood but they’ve become an endangered species,” Perlman said. “It’s really sad and disheartening now how much land costs around here. The structure is prefabricated and manufactured to be easy to move.”
Hariri and Dykstra will funds the moving costs and it will be transported by a professional diner rigger. Perlman became known as “The Diner Man” after he achieved success by sparing other classic diners such as SoHo’s Moondance Diner and Midtown Manhattan’s Cheyenne Diner by brokering deals to have them transported to new locations.
It is not clear when the Shalimar Diner will be removed from its 63-68 Austin St. location.
“I became a preservationist in 2005 when a demolition crew took a jackhammer to the art deco ticket booth at the Trylon Theater on Queens Boulevard,” Perlman recalled. “The Shalimar was another ultimate public institution now facing oblivion.”
Dykstra, meanwhile, is looking to preserve his reputation after several brushes with the law over the years including charges of indecent exposure, DUI, grand theft auto, bankruptcy fraud, sexual assault and writing bad checks. Dykstra made headlines recently for searching for his lost dentures in a New Jersey dumpster for nine hours with his friend, tag-team wrestler nicknamed Sprinkles the Clown, that he chronicled on his Twitter feed.