By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The 13th precinct community council honored the owners of the Malibu Diner at 163 West 23rd Street at their most recent meeting this past Tuesday for their quick response after the explosion farther down the block this past September.
Alex Grimpas and Jose Collado, who have been business partners at the restaurant since 1999, reopened their business the day after the bombing shook the block in order to provide meals for the residents of the nearby Selis Manor, which provides housing for the blind.
“They saw that there was a need on the block and saw that they could help,” Detective Ray Dorian said. “They went over and above what was needed.”
Dorian added that since working with the diner while they were helping out after the explosion, the precinct became aware of the ways in which the business consistently helps out the surrounding community, including a special voucher program for Selis Manor residents.
“We’re always trying to give back to the community in different ways,” Grimpas said of the voucher program. “We wanted to try to help those residents socialize because for them that’s very important.”
Grimpas added that he felt it was especially significant that the diner be available for residents following a traumatic event like the bombing.
“Their life is not so easy,” he said of the blind residents. “We got scared (because of the bombing) but for them, their sense of hearing is at a different level, so it was a big stress for them.”
The windows in the building’s cafeteria were some of those that were blown out as a result of the explosion so residents needed somewhere to go, but Grimpas said they were also running a 24-hour operation, providing space for city, state and federal agencies that needed the space during the investigation.
“We want you to have the feeling that Malibu is always there for the community,” he said.