On August 22nd, a fire destroyed the Landmark Diner in Ossining, displacing many of its employees and leaving behind only a pile of rubble. No patrons or employees were injured, but two firefighters were admitted to the hospital due to heat exhaustion. Before the fire, Hackley students frequented the diner and are now feeling its loss.
“My friend had her first milkshake ever there the weekend before it burned down; [the fire] was so sad,” sophomore Claire Didden said.
Outside of Hackley, the community at large has suffered from the loss of the diner due to many of the charitable events that took place there.
After the dust settled a month later, all of the employees have found jobs at other restaurants in the Thanos Restaurant Group, the company that owned the diner, within only nine days. Donations for them were made through the company Gullotta House. The donation period just closed on September 21st, and they have raised a total of $15,140 for the employees in their pursuit of new jobs.
“A lot of the people [who donated] were patrons or organizations who had pancake breakfasts, or had food donated from the diner or were people who were in the community that frequented the diner,” said the president and founder of the Gullotta House, Matthew Gullota. All of the organizations and companies who ended up donating to the fund were helped by the diner at some point in the past, going to show how large of a presence the diner had.
The people who were most directly affected by the fire were the employees who found themselves without jobs. The owner of the diner, Ari Thanos, only gave permission to the Gullotta House to raise the money if 100% of the donations and money went directly to employees affected and none of the money raised is going into rebuilding the diner. Even after the diner is gone, it is still trying to help people and the community.
These employees who were now jobless were not just victims of the fire; they actually were helping the patrons in the diner get out. Matthew Gullotta talked about how many of these workers were actively helping the firefighters get some of the diners out of the restaurant.
“I worked there for 15 years, my boss was amazing and it was my favorite place [to be] since I came to this country,” said Juan Zhunio, a former employee of the diner, about his experience working there.
Zhunio is now working at the Mirage Diner in New Rochelle, but only part-time on Sundays mainly because of the hard transition he had to make due to a longer commute. His is just one of many stories of employees working at the diner who were sad to see it destroyed, another being Zhunio’s uncle who was there during the fire and was one of the many people who helped get patrons out of the building.
“We will rally through this tragedy and come out on the other side stronger than before. The show must go on, and so, we will rebuild our much-loved diner into a true ‘Landmark’ again,” owner Ari Thanos said in a statement on the diner’s Facebook page, proving their future plans for rebuilding.
The community at large banded together to help people in need with many helping in their own way, either the employees who helped during the fire, people who donated to the Gullotta House, or the firefighters who responded to the scene. And of course, the famous Landmark Diner will back up and running in the near future.