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Another One Bites the Dust: RIP Prime Burger

Photo: Molly Woodward

And now, a personal message of discontent from bicoastal Kempt contributor C. Brian Smith.

First, a caveat: I’m hardly the first person to bemoan the fact that things today are different than they were in the past (Andy Rooney cornered the market on this way of thinking years ago). But I’m mad as hell, so I’m going to do it anyway. I’m sick of seeing so many iconic New York City bars and restaurants close—institutions with decades upon decades of history cast aside in order to make way for another bank branch or pharmacy. It’s been bothering me for a while.

But when the Prime Burger on 51st Street closed last week, it got personal.

We each mourn the closing of landmarks differently, since we each experience New York City differently. Some avoid the Bowery altogether for fear of mistakenly walking by CBGB and seeing carefully distressed suede pants in the window. For others, the kick in the gut was Chumley’s crumbling to the ground in 2007. (It will reopen this year. Sort of.) Then there was Elaine’s, and Totonno’s, and the Fulton Fish Market and Bill’s Gay Nineties—sadly, the RIP list goes on and on, each new entry stinging a little bit more than the one before. And with every closing I can’t help but feel we’ve let down the past, and for the very worst reasons. Like we’re forgetting a little more, each time, about what makes a place a place.

Here’s what made the Prime Burger a place for 74 years...»