Famed LIC eatery M. Wells to close its doors

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M. Wells, a popular Long Island City eatery that serves traditional American diner food with a Quebecois bent, will be closing at the end of August due to failed lease negotiations, its owners said in a statement.

The diner, a silver 1950s-style structure at 21-17 49th Ave., has become one of Queens’ most popular eateries ever since husband-and-wife team Hugue Dufor and Sarah Obratis opened it in June 2010.

Dufor, a French-trained Quebecois chef, often created twists on old favorites like a beef and lamb hamburger or buffalo wings made from chicken wings and feet with whipped blue cheese dressing.

“Neighbors and tourists and everyone in-between have really warmed up to us,” Dufor and Obraitis said in a statement.

Despite the diner’s success, Dufor and Obratis said they will be shuttering in August. The pair said their lease they had set up with the landlord for the diner was set to last a little more than a year.

“The space was charming, we lived across the street and we had faith in Queens,” Dufor and Obratis said. “And, of course, we hoped that we would work out an arrangement that solidified a future.”

But after several months of negotiations, the arrangement never did work out, the pair said. Dufor and Obratis said they would be reopening soon somewhere nearby.

An employee of M. Wells, Ryan Didsbury, told the Wall Street Journal M. Wells already has another location chosen in Long Island City.

In an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers last year, Obratis said she was a native of Queens and Dufor was “smitten” with the borough, especially Long Island City.

M. Wells — the “M” stands for “Magasin,” which means “store” in French, and “Wells” was Dufor’s mother’s maiden name — received mostly positive write-ups in the New York Times, Time Out New York and The New Yorker in its short time in Queens. On popular restaurant review site, the diner received more than 200 reviews with an average of four out of five stars.

The eatery plans to spend its last evenings on what it calls a “high” note. For its last weekends, it will host large, reservation-only meals costing $200 per person. Reservations can be made by calling M. Wells at 718-425-6917, e-mailing or visiting the diner.

The diner’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for brunch and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for dinner.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 11:10 am, October 12, 2011
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