Last summer, word spread that the Highliner would open in the old Empire Diner space in September. If “September 2010” had been a euphemism for “May 2011,” the restaurant would have opened right on schedule.
Eater reports that the restaurant, which comes from the owners of Coffee Shop, opened last night for cocktails. Food is expected to follow shortly, as are the inevitable comparisons to the Empire, which was a Chelsea fixture for more than 30 years.
Although we were never great fans of the Empire’s food and somewhat inflated prices, we much preferred it over Coffee Shop, with its spotty service and mediocre food. Whether the Highliner turns out to be a deserving successor or bastard abomination is anybody’s guess, but we will miss the Empire State Building replica and live piano music.