Image: The Cheyenne Diner
Bebeto Matthews  /  AP file
The Cheyenne Diner in New York City closed last April and is destined for a relocation to Birmingham, Ala.
updated 1/15/2009 2:35:06 PM ET 2009-01-15T19:35:06

A classic New York City diner has found a buyer who will move it to Alabama, saving it from demolition.

In its heyday, the now faded 1940s diner attracted the likes of Jerry Lewis and David Letterman. More recently, it was a favorite of cabbies and cops, the Committee to Save the Cheyenne Diner said.

Alabama businessman Joel Owens said he'll move the Cheyenne Diner in two sections by flatbed truck from Manhattan to Birmingham.

Owens, who heads the NAIC investment group, will restore the diner and might add a classic car museum and special events center. The work may take up to a year.

"This is a dream come true, especially in a state that has no historic freestanding diners," Owens said in a statement Thursday.

Condo going up
The diner, which features the classic layout and length of a railroad dining car, is decorated with Native American motifs, with a stainless steel and glass interior. It was known for its buffalo burgers and grilled chicken dishes. It closed last April.

A nine-story condominium is slated to take its place at 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue.

Cheyenne's former owner had hoped to keep the diner in New York City, but a plan to move it to Brooklyn fell through because the Manhattan Bridge is too narrow for a flatbed. An alternate route, via barge, turned out to be too costly.

Historic preservationist and Committee to Save Cheyenne Diner Chairman Michael Perlman brokered the deal, whose terms were not disclosed.

Perlman said there are only about 40 railroad car-style diners left in America.

The diner will be transported in about two to three weeks.

The Cheyenne is not the first diner to be moved from New York City to another state. The Moondance Diner in lower Manhattan now resides in La Barge, Wyo.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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