Empire Diner

The Great Wall of China (1993)
"Help yourself, it's all you can eat at the Empire Diner tonight." Billy Joel didn't choose a New York restaurant at random. The Empire Diner is a real celebrity in Manhattan. One of Chelsea's most popular eateries, where some of the biggest names in the world have...
Empire Diner New York
Empire Diner New York. Photo credit: Fantrippers

I’m a New Yorker. It is indelibly imprinted in my soul. That’s where I came from and that’s where I should be.

Billy Joel

Billy Joel was already a huge star when he released his album River of Dreams in 1993, which included the song Great Wall of China. At the time, the record was seen as the last by its author. And this will indeed be the last time that one of his studio recordings contains so much original material. Billy Joel has subsequently released only compilations and live albums. A real achievement for this Bronx native nicknamed Piano Man by his fans in relation to the title of his 1973 album, whose track-list contains the eponymous track. Perhaps the best known of its author.

Billy Joel whose work is full of references to the Big Apple. His most famous city-related hit is undoubtedly the formidable New York State Of Mind. More than a song, a declaration of love.


River of Dreams went five times platinum in the U.S. and Europe.

The River of dreams
The River of Dreams. Tous droits réservés : Columbia.

Empire Diner

It’s hard to pass by the Empire Diner without noticing it. An authentic American Art Moderne style diner, at the corner of 10th Avenue and W 22nd Street…

It is in 1946 that the establishment is born. Built by the Fodero Dining Car Company, also responsible for restaurants in Rowley, Massachusetts and Bound Brook, New Jersey, the Empire Diner did not immediately convince New Yorkers and was even abandoned shortly after its opening. Renovated in 1976, it adopted a design reminiscent of the Empire State Building, even though it was located one mile west of the island.

Thus begins its golden age… Several stars of the cinema and music have their habits there. Meryl Streep and her partner John Cazale were often seen there in the 1970s and Josh Brolin, Ethan Hawke, Madonna, Steven Spielberg, Kate Winslet and Barbra Streisand like to come and taste the chef’s specialties. In 2010, however, the Village Voice listed it as one of the ten most overrated restaurants, saying that while the building itself is nice, the service and prices are far too high to make it a must-visit.

Nevertheless, in movies and television, it is the image that is remembered and it is not surprising that the Empire Diner has appeared in the credits of many films and series such as Manhattan, Home Alone 2, Men in Black II, Law and Order and Saturday Night Live. A notoriety that was not enough to prevent its closure on May 15, 2010, before a reopening under the name of The Highliner, in reference to the Highline, the famous panoramic walkway passing right next door, on the banks of the Hudson River. A name abandoned by chef Amanda Feitag when she took over the restaurant in January 2014, giving it back its legendary and so recognizable identity…

Go there

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Fanspots Stories New York

Fanspots Stories New York

Discover the secrets of the cult places of the greatest masterpieces of pop culture in New York!

The world capital of pop culture, New York embodies unbridled creative freedom. The city that never sleeps has been the muse of a large number of directors, actors, screenwriters, singers, musicians, cartoonists and writers…

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Did you know that?
Did you know that the filming of Rage Against The Machine’s Music Now in the Fire caused Wall Street to shut down for the first time since 1929?

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Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, Superman, Leonard Cohen, Led Zeppelin…

Directed by a team of pop culture specialists and embellished with many anecdotes, Fanspots Stories New York tells more than just a story: these are some of the most fascinating stories in pop culture.

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By Gilles Rolland

Monday, December 13, 2021

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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