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Ellen's Stardust Diner raises curtain with assist from LI's Lessing's Hospitality Group

Ellen's Stardust Diner, whose singing wait staff alumni

Ellen's Stardust Diner, whose singing wait staff alumni have gone on to Broadway shows, has reopened in Times Square. Credit: Lessing’s Hospitality Group

A Broadway diner whose singing wait staff draws visitors from around the world has reopened from a pandemic shutdown with an assist from a Long Island hospitality company.

Great River-based Lessing's Hospitality Group added Theater District icon Ellen's Stardust Diner to the roster of restaurants, wedding venues, food-service clients and ghost kitchens it manages.

The 34-year-old restaurant staged a grand reopening on Nov. 16 as Broadway theater marquees continued flickering to light in a rolling return from COVID-19 that began during the summer.

"Ellen's Stardust Diner is the most iconic restaurant in New York City," Michael Lessing, president of Lessing's Hospitality Group, said in a statement.

In addition to sending wait staff alumni to Broadway shows like "Jersey Boys" and "The Lion King," the diner is known for its 1950s-era pictures and memorabilia.

The management deal also includes the Iridium Jazz Club, the sister property to Ellen's Stardust Diner, whose entrance is next door on 51st Street.

Together, the diner and club, owned by Ellen Hart Sturm, are expected to employ more than 200 people.

Plans call for the jazz and blues club, known for presenting guitar legend Les Paul every Monday until his death in 2009, to stage a grand reopening on New Year's Eve.

Lessing's Hospitality Group was founded in 1890 as a lunch counter in Manhattan's financial district by Max Lessing.

Today the family-run business includes about 120 corporate, educational and country club catering locations and 19 wedding venues in the Northeast and Florida.

The company also runs restaurants, such as the Library Cafe in Farmingdale and Finnegan's Restaurant & Tap Room in Huntington, and Lucky Clucker, a virtual restaurant, or "ghost kitchen," whose fare is available only through delivery services like DoorDash.

Lessing's also manages several locations of Blaze Pizza, a chain backed by NBA star LeBron James that promises to cook a custom-prepared pizza in 180 seconds.

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