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Storied 86th Street Nathan’s to Close This Weekend, Marking End of Era in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights

Franks for the memories.

After more than four decades on 86th Street, the storied Nathan’s Famous franchise on the Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights border will serve its last meals on Sun., Jan. 6.

The nearly 20,000-square-foot property, 650 86th Street, has been a Nathan’s since the late ‘70s, before which it was a fast food burger chain named Wetson’s and prior to that, Mitchell’s Drive-In. It also includes an Arthur Treacher’s, which specializes in fast food fish and chips, and which will close this weekend, too.

The eateries’ closing will mark the end of an era in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

“The only place to go for a hotdog in Brooklyn is Nathan’s,” said Lisa Farruggio-Marino, a local resident and teacher at P.S. 180 who occasionally shared a lunch with friends at the local chain. “The convenience of it being on 86th Street was great since going to Coney Island in the winter isn’t always ‘fun’ to do.

“I’m sorry it’s closing,” she added.

Ted General, a local historian and columnist for this paper, called the eatery “legendary.”

“Coincidentally, the closing will also mark the end of the last drive-thru restaurant in the Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights area,” he said.

The space was sold in late October to “660 86 LLC,” according to the sale’s Acquisition of Assets, with sources connecting that to Efthimios Zisimopoulos, a.k.a. Tim Ziss, of Allied Properties.

“Ziss,” a source told this paper amidst the sale, “has been buying up whatever’s big and becomes available in Bay Ridge for quite some time.”

News of the transaction, which this paper first reported in June, raised questions of its replacement as pre-tax gross proceeds of the sale of the significantly underbuilt lot came in at $12.25 million.

“It’s always unfortunate when a business goes out in the community, especially when, in cases like this, it’s a business that has been there for many, many years,” Dyker Heights Civic Association President Fran Vella-Marrone told this paper this summer, “but there’s also the concern of what’s going to go there.”

And, what could go there is quite large. As this paper previously reported, the vast majority of the site is zoned C4-2A, which is the equivalent of a R6A district, according to the Department of City Planning’s Zoning Handbook. Buildings in R6A districts can rise to 70 feet as of right, with a setback required above a base height of 40 to 60 feet.

The C4-2A designation also brings with it significant density with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 3.0, with FAR being a measurement that reflects the ratio between the total floor area of the building and the square footage of the lot on which it is built.

While rumors of its replacement have been limited, residents have been very vocal about what they’d like to see there. Top contenders include Shake Shack, Trader Joe’s and a resurrection of Nathan’s predecessor, Mitchell’s.

There have also been talks of a potential deal with the School Construction Authority (the site’s school district is among the most overcrowded in the city, so much so that building new schools in it have become a prime concern for local electeds like Councilmember Justin Brannan).

However, an unofficial, proposed rendering of a three-floor shopping space making its rounds on social media also raised eyebrows.

Either way, locals maintain, the sale reflects the end of an important chapter in southern Brooklyn history. One Facebook user responded to news of the closing date with a line from a classic Joni Mitchell song: “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.”

A sign on the business’ front doors thanked patrons for “40 years of friendship and great memories.”

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