Project by Saskia Kahn and Tamara Porras
The Vegas Diner due to close June 26th is next in line from the real estate firing squad of diners across the city. My heart breaks for the closing of Vegas in Bensonhurst. For 24 hours a day, it hosts its regulars, giving them a second home for those who, like one man I spoke to turn to 86th street for solace and daily meals after his wife passed away.
My friend and fellow photographer, Tamara Porras, grew up in Dyker Heights, and I grew up in Manhattan Beach. We crossed paths in the darkrooms of Middle School, Mark Twain in Coney Island. As our careers in photography grow, taking us to and from the realms of corporate and fine art spheres, we come back for cheeseburger deluxes in proudly worn messy buns and dirty sweat pants; the respected uniform of a native south Brooklynite.
Both of our grandmothers took us here when we were children. In college when the selected few Brooklyn kids got cars, we'd head to the diner for a 5am dinner. It was the beginning of the now standard, hipsterization of Brooklyn. We felt, fought, and eventually got tired of griping about this turn in culture and real estate, because we still had a couple spots we could call our own- Vegas among the top.
Our friends, many of whom are working artists, with only slight New York accents, could move somewhat fluidly among the gentrification and get by. The old timers, the real old school residents, eating in peace at Vegas, question where they will head to next. I hear they may head to one of the last diners in Bay Ridge. The Brooklyn diaspora continues. Follow the accent, the pride, the free refills on coffee, and you will find what defined the reason why Brooklyn became an icon. - Saskia Kahn