Collection of NYC institutions close up shop

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One was that rare place where you could find vintage Led Zeppelin vinyl in Manhattan. Others were local joints where generations had shared their favorite sandwich or ice cream cone.

Bleecker Bob's in Greenwich Village, Harlem's Lenox Lounge, the Stage Deli in midtown, and the other city institutions that shut down or announced closure plans in 2012 might not have been able to stay open in a New York of burdened neighborhood businesses, but their owners and the city residents that called those places their second homes will never forget them.

"We all like familiar things and when they get fewer and fewer your world gets smaller," said Chris Weidner, longtime manager at Bleecker Bob's.

There is no unifying reason for the stores' closings.

El Faro Restaurant ended its 85-year tenure in the West Village in October after it failed a health inspection. An urgent care center replaced the Skyview Deli in the Bronx this year, which passed with little fanfare after more than a half-century of business.

Weidner, manager of Bleecker Bob's for 11 years, said the store's rent has become too high and it's too hard to keep up with rising costs in general.

Weidner, who added that he doesn't have a firm closing date yet for Bleecker Bob's, said its niche popularity couldn't pull it out of the red.

"There has always been some help from the other businesses [nearby], but they can't pay their rent either," he said.

Wally Rubin, the district manager of Community Board 5 -- which covers the midtown area where the Stage Deli operated until it closed down earlier this month -- said changing demographics played a major role in the demise of the 75-year institution.

The eatery, which had a strong rivalry with the nearby Carnegie Deli, simply wasn't attractive to younger generations of diners.

"There's been a lot of rebirth and change," Rubin said. "When it comes to these closings, it depends on what it is and what the neighborhood is and where the neighborhood is going."

Many longtime outer borough businesses were getting by until superstorm Sandy washed away their futures.

Flood damage destroyed most of the ice-cream making equipment at Denny's Delight in Coney Island, keeping the 24-year-old dessert place from reopening, said Brooklyn community board district manager Chuck Reichenthal.

"As someone who's a native Brooklynite, who can tell you what was where and what came there, it breaks my heart," he said.

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