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Ellen’s Stardust Diner to reopen amid Broadway’s struggle to recapture fans

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Ellen’s Stardust Diner is poised to re-open in November – greater than 18 months since its world-famous singing waitstaff carried out earlier than a packed room of vacationers noshing on “ruby” Ruebens or sipping salted caramel milkshakes.

“It’s magic. Visiting Ellen’s is magic,” boasted namesake proprietor Ellen Hart Sturm, 80, the previous New York City magnificence queen whose thought to combine present tunes with basic diner fare made the eatery one in all Midtown’s hottest vacationer locations. Pre-pandemic two-hour waits on the nook of Broadway and West 51st attested to its attraction.

“A lot of people can’t afford a Broadway show, but they can afford to eat here and get a real Broadway experience,” mentioned normal supervisor Joe Kazhdan.

The diner briefly re-opened final fall. But with no theaters working and few if any vacationers on the town, the hassle was short-lived. Ellen’s shut its doorways on Dec. 13. They have remained closed since.

The re-opening of Ellen’s is an indication of much-needed new life as Broadway, a high-profile barometer of town’s total vitality, battles to win again theater-goers amid persevering with COVID considerations and a vaccine mandate that limits the potential viewers.

Ellen's idea to mix show tunes with classic diner fare made the eatery one of Midtown’s most popular tourist destinations.
Sturm’s thought to combine present tunes with basic diner fare made the eatery one in all Midtown’s hottest vacationer locations.
Stephen Yang

Ticket gross sales to this point “are disappointing,” one Broadway insider informed The Post, citing the shortage of information popping out of field workplaces. The COVID outbreak that briefly shut down manufacturing of “Aladdin” final week, amongst a crew that was reportedly one hundred pc vaccinated in opposition to the virus, reveals different hurdles await.

The Broadway League website shows field workplace receipts peaked at practically $56 million over the past week of 2019, earlier than trailing off early in 2020, as is common within the New Year. The studies abruptly ended when Broadway closed with the COVID outbreak in March 2020 and haven’t been up to date since.

“If sales were strong, they’d be sure to let everyone know,” the supply mentioned.

Server Brandi Chavonne Massey
Brandi Massey nonetheless is available in from New Jersey to serve meals and sing.
Stephen Yang

The re-opening of Stardust is an indication that higher days are forward, mentioned actress Brandi Massey, who started working on the diner in 2004 and went on to carry out in Broadway hits “Wicked” and “The Color Purple.”

“Ellen’s is a community within a community,” mentioned Massey. “It’s the perfect place to go between gigs, practice your craft and make a little money.”

The New Jersey resident nonetheless returns to serve, and sing, at Ellen’s between appearing engagements. She might be working the diner when the doorways reopen subsequent month.

Returning guests will discover “more show-stopping moments” on the menu,” Kazhdan mentioned, together with kid-friendly Fruity Pebbles and Dunkaroos pancakes, breakfast all day lengthy, and a refurbished inside highlighting its basic Fifties retro decor.

Patrick Pevehaus (left), Cat Yates, Brandi Chavonne Massey, and Nicole Calkins are seen at Stardust Diner.
Patrick Pevehaus (left), Cat Yates, Brandi Chavonne Massey, and Nicole Calkins are seen at Stardust Diner.
Stephen Yang
Stardust Diner,
Nicole Calkins is among the many proficient servers at Stardust Diner.
Stephen Yang

Ellen’s expertise director and former actor Scott Barbarino delights within the diner’s popularity for not solely serving to launch careers, however in welcoming newcomers to town who hope to sometime see their title in lights on the Great White Way.

“Ellen gives them a job and is happy to welcome them back, too” mentioned Barbarino, who says scores of Ellen’s workers have gone on to carry out on Broadway.

“It’s very good practice for them,” mentioned Sturm. “Like a rehearsal every day.”

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