Old John’s Luncheonette Will Get a Retro Makeover and Some New Food

Old John’s Luncheonette, the diner on 67th Street and Amsterdam Avenue that closed in October after more than 60 years, is reopening next month. And renderings show that the bar will have a 1950s soda fountain feel to it.

New owner Louis Skibar — who once worked as a deliveryman and short order cook at Old John’s — plans to keep a lot of the classic recipes. But he’s also got some new goodies in store, he told Eater.

For the revival, Skibar has signed on chef Grayson Schmitz, a former Top Chef contestant whose past experience includes stints at fine dining restaurants like Jean-Georges and Wallsé, to oversee the kitchen. The diner will also have its first-ever dedicated pastry chef in Tanya Ngangan, previously the co-owner of seven-year-old West Village patisserie Bisous Ciao, which shut down in May.

Crowd-favorite dishes like the blueberry pancakes, the Belgian waffles, and the chicken pot pie will remain on the menu, but Schmitz has plans to update the recipes, Skibar says. Ngangan is building a morning pastry program where everything will be baked in-house, and plans to recreate classic diner desserts for Old John’s including sundaes, ice cream sodas, and egg creams.

Of course, you probably won’t be able to pull up to the counter and order an egg cream when it first opens, because of Covid-19 restrictions. Skibar will be putting together a heated outdoor seating area, with its own retro look to mirror the inside, according to Eater.

FOOD, OPEN/CLOSED | 26 comments | permalink
    1. uwsmom says:

      Sooo excited for this! And seems like a great neighborhood spot my teen kids can pop into on their own. Just hope it’s not too fancy and we can still order our face choc chip pancakes!

    2. Doc Rich says:

      Same location?

    3. ZoomZ says:

      Welcome back and good luck, but – what’s the point of opening now when you can’t have indoor dining?
      And Cuomo will keep it this way for the next 6 months or so.
      But – bravo for coming back.
      I’ll be there.

      • UWS-er says:

        It’s addressed in the article:

        “It’s a challenging time to open, Skibar admits, but he says that he negotiated some rent breaks with the landlord and he’s optimistic about the neighborhood’s ability to sustain a restaurant like Old John’s. His restaurants in tourist hotspots like the Theater District have been struggling, he says, but his spots in more residential neighborhoods, like the Upper East Side, have been doing well enough throughout the pandemic. He’s banking on the same trend playing out on the other side of Central Park.”

      • A. Realist says:

        Re: “And Cuomo will keep it this way for the next 6 months or so.”
        CUOMO? Not Covid19??
        The Gov is fulfilling his duty to keep the people of New York State safe!
        To those offended by his ‘tough-guy’ stance, get a grip!
        Were he ignoring the pandemic (as someone about to leave El Casa Blanca has done) those offended would be calling for his resignation.

    4. SA_NYC says:

      Looks really cool!

    5. jhminnyc says:

      This looks really great and will be a real asset to the neighborhood. I wish them the best of luck.

    6. Harvey Schmelter-Davis says:

      Can’t wait for Old John’s to reopen around the corner from us!😊👍🌈

    7. Tim says:

      Skibar was also supposed to be opening a Mexican-themed restaurant 2 doors down at the corner of 67th & Amsterdam (was a bodgega). That was back in 2017 and it’s sat without construction since. Any updates on whether that is still being considered? Obviously Covid changed everything, but given it’s the same landlord/building, I’m wondering if there is still hope.

    8. Ken says:

      Doubt the prices will be retro. I just hope they’re not too futuristic.

    9. Lauren says:

      This looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it.

    10. Designaddict10023 says:

      OMG I LOVE IT!!!!!! I’m going to LIVE here I can just feel it

    11. chuck d says:

      Looks great. Can’t wait to go there, followed by getting exasperated at the line. God, I miss getting angry at brunch lines.

    12. Lorene says:

      It’s beautiful, can’t wait to go.

    13. Beth Sperber says:

      This is wonderful news! And the remodel looks great. Best of luck! We’ll be ordering from them.

    14. lynn says:

      Does anyone know the name of his restaurant on the UES?

    15. UWSSurfer says:

      It’s beautiful! It sounds like everything
      will be delicious.

      • DigsDeeper says:

        I read the article 3 times and am wondering what makes the food sound delicious. That’s like looking at a Facebook picture of someone just standing on a beach and commenting that it looks like they’re having a great time.

    16. Langer Nancy says:

      For years following our SierraPhoto NYC monthly meeting at the Opera Learning Center, about 10-15 of us loved to dine at your restaurant. We were warmly received and never hassled about separate checks. We were crushed upon hearing you were closed and elated to hear you were reopening. But I’m fearful that along with your classic recipes your prices won’t remain classic. Congratulations and good luck with your new endeavor. I’m going to miss the tile floor that was exactly like bathroom floor in the house where I grew up.

    17. UWSmom says:

      @ZoomZ and @Realist Yes Cuomo. I used to be a fan but his edicts are really based on knee jerk no science reactions. For some facts look at worldometers and the numbers in Florida. Which had no shutdowns. Their numbers are now better than ours. And restaurateur friends who have looked at the cdc study he is citing on indoor dining say it is from early summer in other states w no precautions.

    18. Andy says:

      Such a great story. Can’t wait to be a customer! 🙂

    19. Midge Shepard says:

      I have always loved Old Johns and cant wait to come to the new one!

    20. Bobbie Meshirer says:

      Thrilled to have Old John’s back and wish them the very best of luck!

    21. Old timer says:

      Egg creams? Nice! Can’t wait…

    22. EdNY says:

      I won’t miss the backwards-opening doors.