Mr. Vasilopoulos and Mr. Tragaras have owned the restaurant since 1988, but Cup & Saucer has occupied the space since the early 1940s, Mr. Vasilopoulos said. In March, they learned their $8,200 a month lease would increase by $7,600 per month. Attempts to negotiate with the landlord, 99 Canal Realty, failed, they said.
“It would be nice if we stayed another five years, but it happens,” Mr. Vasilopoulos said. “We’re not the first ones.”
Two calls to 99 Canal Realty seeking comment were disconnected last week.
As the news spread that the greasy spoon would be closing, the diner was inundated with well-wishers.
Haifa Olsen moved to the neighborhood a year ago from London and went to Cup & Saucer weekly for blueberry pancakes.
“I’m from Europe, so for us pancakes are very exciting,” Ms. Olsen said Sunday, adding, “It is a little New York institution, and being a foreigner, it really gives you that New York flavor that you don’t have very many places.”
The diner sits just off the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge along the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, at the corner of Eldridge and Canal Streets. It opened in the early 1940s, when the area was dominated by immigrant families and businesses. It has had three sets of owners, Mr. Vasilopoulos said.
Both he and Mr. Tragaras are from Greece and immigrated in their youth. Mr. Vasilopoulos’s brother is married to Mr. Tragaras’s sister. They now live in Astoria, Queens, “with the other Greeks,” Mr. Vasilopoulos said.
Through it all, the diner, including the décor, has remained reliably the same.
“Do you see the cup and saucer on the floor, and the stools?” Mr. Vasilopoulos asked, pointing to an image on the tiles and faded mustard spinning stools. “They’re original.”
Mr. Tragaras said: “We had to adjust the menu a little bit because it used to be just regular breakfast. We went into paninis; we went into wraps. But we don’t have pastrami anymore.”