By Josh LaBella
Customers who have gone to Nick’s Luncheonette long enough have a good chance their orders will be on the grille as soon as they are seen walking through the door.
Owner Nick Milas said his customers are like his family. The landmark spot recently moved to new digs after months of renovation.
“Most people we know by name,” said Milas. “We know what they eat. So far it’s been great.”
Milas said he emigrated from Greece in 1978 to find a better life. He started working at Elm Diner, now Georgie’s, as a dishwasher and said he worked hard to become a cook and eventually saved enough money to buy his own restaurant in 1992. He said the biggest challenge was building clientele.
He said his method was simple.
“To have reasonable prices, good service and being quick [with cook times],” said Milas.
As of press time Milas had been in his location, 255 Sawmill Road, for 10 weeks — opening on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
He agreed to sell the property where the original Nick’s stood for the development of the Haven Project, a high-end shopping mall being developed. His son Kosta, who works at Nick’s with his father, said it was not an easy decision.
“It definitely wasn’t pleasant,” he said. “A lot of blood and sweat had been put into that location. Honestly, it left a piece of him behind. But we try not to dwell on the past too much. We try and look forward.”
The younger Milas said during the nine months they were closed for the move they kept in touch with customers through Facebook. He said they were thankful for all their customers and employees for sticking with them through the move.
Nick Milas said his favorite part of his work is the customers. He said he like seeing them happy. Kosta said his father has an unmatched work ethic.
“I’ve never seen anyone, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my father, whose work ethic is as top notch,” said Kosta. “We will work day in day out, hour, until it gets done. That’s the way it’s always been.”
Nick said he decided to open a diner that serves breakfast and lunch because it has always been his favorite meal.
“I’m a breakfast man,” said Milas. “I don’t like to work nights. I like the morning.”
Milas said he wakes up at 4 a.m. and gets to the restaurant around 4:30. He said he puts in about 12 hours a day by the time he gets home, but it is worth it.
Kosta Milas said his father and the rest of their family are focusing on the present. He said they want to make sure that everything at their new location is on par or better than what their customers experienced at the old one.