The iconic Dizzy’s Diner in Park Slope will permanently shutter amid coronavirus-related financial troubles, ending a 22 year run of serving up mouthwatering meals to their fiercely loyal fanbase at the corner of Ninth Street and Eighth Avenue.
“It’s just been 22 years of a remarkable community,” said Dizzy’s longtime owner Matthew Pisciotta. “It was a place for me to go to work and connect with my regulars that I see every day.”
The hash palace had served as an unofficial community center for Park Slope since the late 90’s, with local celebrities like U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and actor Steve Buscemi frequenting the laid-back bistro — but now, the economic strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Bay Ridge resident to close up shop as say goodbye to the renowned red awning outside his two-decade eatery.
“I just didn’t see the balance of not being able to serve people inside,” said Pisciotta. “I knew what I needed to make every month to pay my expenses, and there was no way that was going to happen.”
On top of serving as a haven for hungry Park Slopers looking for sizzling bacon and freshly brewed coffee each morning, Pisciotta also used the joint to hire countless neighborhood youngsters for temporary gigs waiting or bussing tables — saying they’re friendliness and outgoing personality added a touch of charm to the restaurant, much more than industry experience ever could.
“I always said I don’t care if you don’t have experience in the restaurant business,” he said. “I’m looking for friendly, personable, young people that can communicate and give customer service the way it should be.”
Neighbors and regulars who have caught wind of the bacon joint’s closure, which the restaurant announced with letters outside the shuttered storefront, have been devastated at the loss of the Park Slope staple, Pisciotta said.
“As I was closing Dizzy’s and cleaning out things, I spent most of my time on the front sidewalk just being stopped by so many concerned neighbors that were so devastated — almost brought me to tears a few times,” he said. “I feel so sad for these people that lost their little place.”
Dizzy’s is far from alone among the city’s struggling grub hubs, with some estimates predicting half of the eateries in the Five Boroughs may shutter due to government-mandated restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic.
Diners can offer take out and delivery, as well as offer limited seating indoors, but Pisciotta says the lost ability for locals to gather as a community diminished the very characteristics that made Dizzy’s special for so long.
“Our brunches were shoulder to shoulder, and that’s what made it hot and good and fun,” he said. “People wanted to be there because it was jamming. I can’t imagine the vibe that would have been changed with 25 percent seating.”
While he’s sad to close, Pisciotta expressed his gratitude to be able to keep the joint running for as long as he did, especially in an industry with high rates of turnover.
“As devastating as it was to close it I’m very appreciative that I had it,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better chapter in my life.”
This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.