By Karen Carr Keefe
The Viking Diner has closed its doors, and building owner Dave Mazur is advertising the site as available for a new tenant as a turn-key operation.
Mazur confirmed that Viking Diner proprietor Chris Polizzi closed his business March 13.
Mazur expressed regret at the closing and said he is hoping for someone to take over the restaurant, at 1849 Grand Island Blvd., and make a go of it. He noted there has been a restaurant at that site for at least 50 years.
The Viking Diner had struggled during COVID-19 state-mandated restrictions on indoor dining for all restaurants. The diner boasted attractive, ’50s-style décor, and Polizzi said the goal was a fun atmosphere and great food. They had sold Bills Boxes, takeout boxes on Buffalo Bills game days, which were popular with customers.
The Viking Diner originally opened on Feb. 1, 2020, and had closed amid pandemic-related business challenges, on Jan. 1, 2021. However, the community rallied behind the diner and, through a fundraising app and a raffle organized by Islander Cheryl Frailey, raised $2,500, enabling the diner to reopen. Close to 60 or 70 people donated to get the diner back in business.
Polizzi told the Dispatch in late January that, before the community stepped up, the diner had been struggling with the COVID-19 restrictions and couldn’t seem to find the momentum to keep going.
The original eatery at the site was the Clown House, a seasonal, walk-up snack shop with no inside seating that opened in May of 1955. The Viking Diner had taken over after the closure of the former McMahon’s Family Restaurant, which itself was one in a long line of restaurants located there, including the Islander Restaurant.