The Real Deal New York

Ex-Cheyenne Diner site slated for rental, retail development

A restaurant-owning family plans to turn a Midtown West lot that held a star-studded diner for nearly 70 years into a 13-story mixed-use building, The Real Deal has learned.

The Papaionnou family intends to transform 411 Ninth Avenue into 26 rental apartments, five of which will be intended for low- to moderate-income tenants, with two retail spaces on the ground floor. Each floor of the residential portion will have one two-bedroom unit and one studio, George Papaionnou said.

Back in 2008, the owners evicted the historic, railcar-style Cheyenne Diner – a western and Native American-themed restaurant – to develop a nine-story building with apartments and a new restaurant. Architect Thomas Gilman said the architect who was initially hired on the project “did not work out so well,” and he was hired to get the project back on track.

The Papaionnou family, which also owns the Skylight Diner at 402 West 34th Street, paid $1.4 million for the one-story Art Moderne building on the 1,975-square-foot lot in 2003, property records show. Entrepreneurs Joel Owens and Patti Miller bought the Cheyenne after the eviction, transporting it in two pieces via a truck to Alabama. It has not yet secured a location there, the Birmingham News reported in March.

Originally, the site held the Market Diner, which opened there in 1940, later changing its name to the Cheyenne Diner in 1986. Celebrities such as Jerry Lewis and David Letterman were once regulars.

Papaionnou said he expects construction to start next month. The building is slated to open in 2015, he added. Amenities include a shared rooftop deck and bicycle storage.

“It will bring more housing to the area and clean up the corner,” Papaionnou said.

As for a memento from the bygone era of the Cheyenne, Papaionnou said, “Maybe a picture in the lobby. We’re not sure yet.”