Ghost Signs of NYC: Neil’s Coffee Shop

Frank Mastropolo
2 min readMar 20
Neil’s Coffee Shop. Photo ©Frank Mastropolo

It’s sad to report that Neil’s Coffee Shop, a mainstay eatery of the Upper East Side, was evicted in March 2023 after years of court battles and about $1 million in unpaid rent. Longtime owner Christo Kaloudis filed for bankruptcy in September 2022 and died in early 2023.

“In late February, the landlord successfully dismissed the bankruptcy proceedings in the wake of Kaloudis’ Jan. 3 death,” Patch reports, “and on Tuesday, a Marshal’s notice was issued, now on display in the institution’s front window.”

Neil’s neon sign, at least for now, joins the many iconic ghost signs that can be found in Uptown Manhattan.

Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York’s Past

We highlighted Neil’s neon sign in Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York’s Past as one of the city’s classic signs we hoped would never disappear. An excerpt from the book:

Neil’s Coffee Shop opened on the Upper East Side in 1940; its neon sign has hung in front since FDR was president. Greek immigrant Cristo Kaloudis bought the restaurant from the Neil family in 1980. Kaloudis arrived in New York in the 1960s and worked in the kitchens of restaurants in Queens before taking over Neil’s. Kaloudis’ son Nicholas runs Neil’s today.

“My father didn’t change the name or the look when he bought it,” Kaloudis told Financial Review. “Nothing you see here today has been changed from the time he bought the diner apart from the upholstery in the booths, which we change every couple of years. We even use the same old 1951 cash register and the Hamilton milkshake blender is from 1954. They still work fine.”

Mastropolo is also the author of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever and New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock, selected by Best Classic Bands as two of the Best Music Books of 2021 and 2022.

Frank Mastropolo

“Life is too short to be spent in the company of morons." — Jerry Weintraub