After being closed for several years and left to be covered in graffiti, the Land & Sea Restaurant on 5535 Broadway is finally being demolished and in its place is coming a joint Burger King and Popeyes.
“Land & Sea will no longer be a vacant eyesore,” the Kingsbridge Business Improvement District wrote in its 22nd annual report. “It is being renovated and should open next year as a combination Popeyes and Burger King.”
When The Riverdale Press visited the site of the demolition there were several construction members doing work on the roof and cellar. A description on the permit read they are renovating the interior and exterior and raising part of the roof to provide a level roof surface.
The permit was issued July 5 to Joseph Caruso of the Caruso Contracting LLC. It’s set to expire in May 2024. A construction worker at the site also confirmed to The Press that a joint Popeyes and Burger King would be filling the vacancy.
The diner was a well-cherished part of Riverdale. It joins a number of diners that have shut down, such as the Blue Bay Restaurant, which closed after 48 years. The Riverdale Diner has also remained closed since an early morning kitchen fire that injured two firemen in April.
The Press once described the northwest Bronx as “diner heaven” and though they are down a few, there are still a number of diners for people to meet and eat. Those include Such as Tibbett Diner on Tibbett Avenue, Tiny’s Diner on Riverdale Avenue, and Dale Diner on West 231st Street. And if fast food restaurants are more your style, the address at 5531 Broadway may make you happy.
Li, a Riverdale resident, shared his memories of going to the diner with his dad. He criticized the choice of bringing in chain restaurants, noting that there is a Popeyes around the corner.
“I think it’s stupid because one, isn’t that America’s culture?” Li said. “The diner culture, like that’s America’s thing, our diners. I remember going to that place as a kid. My dad used to go there all the time. That (expletive) has been there since like the (friggin) ‘80s. But what do you expect? Big chains, they own everything, there’s not much you can do about it.”
Though there are no Popeyes in Riverdale, there is one Burger King on Broadway right along Van Cortlandt Park. According to ScrapeHero, as of Aug. 22, there are 2,988 Popeyes restaurants in the U.S. Burger King beats that number at 6,850 as of July.
According to a menu pulled from Yelp, some of the things you could have eaten when the Land & Sea was still in service were the lunch Land and Sea’s seafood paella, chunky monkey pancakes, the New York Cheesecake Shake, the tower of burgers, and the heart attack burger.
The diner was written about several times in The Press, although unfortunately not for its delicious food, but a series of isolated robbery incidents that took place there.
A group of diners were enjoying their meals at the diner around 4:30 a.m. in March of 2013, when suddenly a stranger sat down at their table. What the stranger did next was pull out a silver hand and order the group to “give me all the money and jewelry.”
Police say the diners placed a $17,000 Rolex watch, a $25,000 Cuban link chain, a $25,000 ring, and $1,300 in cash.
Unfortunately that was not the end of it, because as the thief exited, a 28-year-old man hurled a glass toward the thief. This resulted in the thief firing a shot, striking the 28-year-old in the hip. Thankfully, the 28-year-old was expected to recover, police said.
As fate would have it though, there was another robbery at the diner just five years later, also in March.
In this case the victim, a 30-year-old man, told police that while he was in the restroom he was confronted by two men who demanded the chain on his neck. While one man held the 30-year-old down, another ripped one chain from his neck. Ultimately, the two robbers made off with $3,000 in cash, one chain worth $5,200, and another apparently worth $11,200.
In October 2019, another victim was robbed while she was in the restroom. In this case though the robbery took place outside. While a 29-year-old woman was in the restroom, someone apparently removed from the woman’s table her keys, iPhone charger, Chase debit card, driver’s license, and wallet.