The Indelible Charm of the Greeks! “’Vicky’s Diner”

We have a complicated cross-cultural situation to deal with here. Vicky Limberis is a Greek immigrant to New York City who worked in a variety of diners before eventually opening up “Vicky’s Diner” way up from midtown New York. She had worked in diners then owned one that burnt down and started Vicky’s Diner to a great commercial success.

I said we may have a cross-cultural situation because New York City has a maniacal dining out culture. Restaurants (pre-COVID) when I have been there which is some 40 plus times are the way of life for many New Yorkers and they are busy at all hours with endless choices from gourmet to deli takeout. I mean no one seems to cook at home. It might be because of peanut sized kitchens where cooking can be technically difficult or some mad desire to socialize as so many in New York are not from New York so they need to be included in a social group like a family they left back home. As I see it a home cooked meal in Manhattan is take-out from Whole Foods at Columbus Circle.

So diners have done well in New York City and many are run by Greeks who for decades have been heavily involved in the restaurant business in North America. As for diners there are still many in New York run by Greeks but there are many now run by Latinos. In Toronto diners are a rarity. Even at the Danforth where there are many eateries with Greek names there may be a Greek owner but the staff are often Sri Lankan. It is if the Greeks have moved on from restaurants to higher echelon and educated positions.  What was once heavily controlled Greek restaurant business is shifting to new ethnic groups. Such is the ebb and flow of immigration.

I can only think of a handful of diners in Toronto that are in a way not diners but an attempt to recreate a diner.

“Vicky’s Diner” represents a fascinating look at a diner from a patron/owner/customer perspective. Is this a last gasp at Greek hospitality? Although on a last visit to New York City I noticed there are a few traditional Greek owned and managed diners the Mexicans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans have seemed to take over ownership of diners and unfortunately, they have a uniform obsession for too many onions in their omelettes. Thanks to COVID-19 Vicky’s Diner closed in September 2020.

You can see the trailer here

You can catch this documentary here or go to the Hellenic Film Society of USA to catch up with the link to the film

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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