Attorney, former Mets star Lenny Dykstra look to move diner car to Aquebogue

07/01/2019 5:44 PM |

Thirty-three years ago, Lenny Dykstra helped turn around the New York Mets’ championship season when he led off Game 3 of the 1986 World Series with a momentum-changing home run.

Now, due to his affiliation with New York City attorney and part-time Riverhead resident Ronald Hariri, he may pump new life into another Queens relic.

Mr. Hariri wants to move a vintage Kullman dining car that up until a year ago was home to the Shalimar Diner in Rego Park to a property he owns on Main Road in Aquebogue. He’s named Mr. Dykstra, a three-time All-Star during his 12-year Major League career who earned the nickname “Nails” for his tenacious play on the field, as a partner in the project.

“Lenny is a piece of New York history, Mets history and Queens history and it would be good to have him participate,” Mr. Hariri said. “Greek diners are going away. They really are an endangered species of sorts.”

The idea, which Mr. Hariri admits must clear an abundance of hurdles in order to move forward, came about after he read about the demise of the diner, which had been in operation for nearly 45 years before it closed in 2018. The building will likely be demolished to make way for residential apartments, he said.

According to a self-penned post in the Queens Gazette, preservationist Michael Perlman announced anyone could have the building, which has appeared in episodes of the CBS drama “Blue Bloods” and the Academy Award-nominated film “Wolf of Wall Street,” if they pay the cost to move it to a new property.

Mr. Hariri, who was raised in nearby Forest Hills, is attempting to be that person and he said Mr. Dykstra, who spent some time with him in Aquebogue earlier this year, would be a partner in the project. The first step, Mr. Hariri said, will be to evaluate the costs of moving such a building and to review his plans with an architect.

Mr. Hariri said the biggest obstacle might be getting the necessary approvals from Riverhead Town, especially given the building’s architectural aesthetic and how that would fit in on Main Road. The 1.3-acre wooded parcel is located just west of North Fork Chocolate Company on the north side of Main Road.

Mr. Hariri envisioned the building serving as a brewery tasting room or a farm-to-table restaurant. He pointed to the chocolate tasting room, the upcoming Barrow Food House, Il Giardino and Little Lucharitos as examples of a developing foodie scene along Main Road in the hamlet.

“Although Town Hall and the current supervisor have failed to revitalize downtown, I’m delighted to see many individuals and entrepreneurs making that part of Aquebogue a little destination center,” said Mr. Hariri, who noted that he’s currently in the process of renovating another building along Main Road.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.

With the involvement of Mr. Dykstra, who has been at the center of many controversies in recent years and spent time in a California prison earlier this decade after being convicted of grand theft auto and other charges, Mr. Hariri believes he has a partner who can help see this project through the bottom of the ninth.

The two met through philanthropic work at a midtown Jewish center, Mr. Hariri said, adding that he has also represented the former ballplayer in litigation.

“One thing about Lenny, he always says ‘Nails never fails,’ ” Mr. Hariri said. “I think he’s been vindicated in a lot of stuff.”

Caption: Mr. Dykstra, right, with Mr. Hariri, second from left, his partner Colleen O’Brien and Pete Marcario of Phil’s at the former Phil’s Waterfront in Aquebogue this past January. (Courtesy Photo)

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