Kellogg’s added to historic registry

Kellogg’s, the famous 24-hour Williamsburg Diner, was added to the Historic Business Preservation Registry on Saturday.

The Historic Business Preservation Registry was created with the goal of providing educational and promotional assistance to businesses that have been located in a neighborhood for over 50 years. The program, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, can receive nominations from local legislators and are decided on a rolling basis.

Elected officials and restaurant workers inside Kellogg’s Diner with the historical designation award.

Since around 1973, Kellogg’s has served Williamsburg residents morning, noon, and night. Despite the pressures the COVID-19 placed on local businesses, the Metropolitan Avenue-based eatery was able to continue serving families during the pandemic.

Navigating a business throughout a pandemic is difficult, but Irene Siderakis was able to pull it off – without any restaurant experience at all.

Before the pandemic, Irene was a stay-at-home mother for her four boys. She inherited the restaurant after her husband passed away unexpectedly in 2019.

“The worst things in life can hate you. But it doesn’t mean you can’t move forward in a positive direction, as long as you believe in yourself,” Siderakis said about what this moment meant to her. “As a woman I want to say that I’m proud of myself. I know I put my heart into it. I put all my strength into it. Just because my husband died there is the excuse to say we can’t. I’ve got four children in this world I’m responsible for. There is no can’t”.

Before her husband passed she didn’t know anything about the business—who the vendors were, how to handle payroll, or the day-to-day responsibilities. Now, she says she feels closer to him, knowing everything he did to help provide a life for her and her kids.

“It is just a fantastic, fantastic testimony to the community that this place holds that Kellogg’s fought through COVID and rose again, and reopened and kept their staff and kept everyone safe,” State Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, who nominated the business for the registry, said while presenting the award. “They closed for two months during COVID, during which the owner became very, very ill, but still made sure that she was feeding the community. And I just think this is a beautiful example of what small businesses can do for our city and our states.

Siderakis has an emotional moment after being presented with the award

The 15 or so patrons got excited by the unexpected announcement, taking out their phones to capture the moment they got to be a part of.

“One of my first memories in about 1950 was that this [referring to her booth] was a caboose you know, like real diners used to be like train cars,” longtime patron Lorraine Franzese Scorsone, 68, said.

And she’s kept the tradition alive for the latest generation, regularly taking her two grandchildren to Kellogg’s.

“Kellogs has always been probably one of the biggest staples of this community,” 13-year-old Dahlia Prettr said. She said that she can’t even remember the first time going as it’s always been a piece of her life.“ So this community, no matter how much it’s changed, it’s always still been like that. Not a close-knit family by any means. But it’s still a family.”

“If you’re born and raised here, you know everything about Kellogg’s. You know how important it is early in the morning or very, very late at night,” South Williamsburg native and Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso said to some laughs. “And I just want to thank you again for being here for 50 years, when no one wanted to be in Williamsburg 30 years ago, you were here 50 years ago, and you guys maintained it and stood strong.”

And while much was made about the history of Kellogg’s on Saturday, Siderakis is even more excited for the future.

Siderakis receives Historical Business Award

Siderakis recently held their first comedy show at the diner the previous week, where Brooklyn Magazine reported over 75 people attended. She’s also been looking at expanding their takeout options, working to supply the food for ghost kitchens. She’s even gotten a request for someone to hold their wedding reception there.

But some things are going to stay the same. The friendly service the staff at Kellogg’s are known for will continue. The menu will be just as long. And, of course, it will stay open 24 hours a day.

“They believed in me, which was the biggest thing for me,” Siderakis said about how none of this would be possible without her staff. ”I didn’t know nothing. But they believed in me. And they stuck by me. And we got it together and we made it happen. And we supported one another with the customers that believed in us. I’m so grateful for everyone that kept coming back.

Rob MacKay, Author

“Historic Houses of Queens” by Rob MacKay is an in-depth history of notable Queens homes that examines their architecture, interior design, surrounding neighborhoods, peculiarities, and personalities.
His interest in writing this book grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society in 2018.
“The 20th century brought even more construction and inhabitants, including many African-Americans, Eastern European Jews, Italians, Asians, and Latinos,” said MacKay. “Phenomena from this period include Beaux Arts architecture, government-run housing projects, restrictive covenants, sidewalk driveways, and McMansions.”
MacKay visited Addisleigh Park, where many prominent African Americans lived, such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown, WEB Dubois, civil rights leader Percy Ellis Sutton, as well as many famous jazz musicians.
“Queens was very open to African-American homeowners, and the borough has a middle-class African-American history dating back to when Flushing was an end stop on the Underground Railroad,” he said.
McKay collected over 200 images for the book, which explores several landmarked districts and more than 50 significant houses, with the oldest dating back to the mid-1660s.
“The photo on the cover of the book was actually a never-before-seen picture of a house that used to be in the Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead that resides near the oldest house in Queens,” said McKay.
MacKay is also director of Public Relations, Marketing and Tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
“Because of my job, some of the houses are museums where I was able to talk to the museum directors,” he said. “Most of the images came from the subjects, but Queens Public Library also provided many images.
“I reached out to different people and it’s nice to meet people that love history,” McKay added. “It was nice to see humans helping other humans.”

To purchase “Historic House of Queens” visit

Author pens book about historic homes of Queens

A new book explores the notable homes across the borough of Queens.
Historic Houses of Queens was written by Rob MacKay, who currently works for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. His interest in writing the book
grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society.
Queens boasts a rich history that includes dozens of poorly publicized, but historically impressive, houses.
A mix of farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes, and architecturally significant dwellings, the homes were owned by America’s forefathers, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age.
Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the US Constitution, operated a
large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite and bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria.
Musicians whose homes are still standing in the borough include Louis Armstrong,
Count Basie, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne.
Through more than 200 photographs, Historic Houses of Queens explores the homes’ architecture, owners, surrounding neighborhoods, and peculiarities.
All the while, MacKay considers that real humans lived in them. They grew up in them. They relaxed in them. They proudly showed them to friends and family. And in some cases, they lost them to fire, financial issues or urban renewal projects.
“This is a true labor of love,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. I spent a countless weekends on research and writing,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. “But it was worth it. Queens is such a special place, and its history is absolutely fascinating. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this information with readers.”

Historic Houses of Queens is currently available on Arcadia Publishing’s website.

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