New York Cafe
By Sue Nador

Carrying on the tradition

Giota Nikolopoulos’ New York Café has been a Greektown landmark for decades, serving hearty diner fare since 1942 at the corner of Broadview and Danforth. Stepping into the two-room restaurant, housed inside a heritage building, is like being transported back in time: the formica tables, retro archways and dark paneling are reminiscent of days gone by.

As the owner, Giota wears many hats. She still serves customers (as does her mom), but also manages all the other aspects of running a business, such as managing staff, many of whom have worked at New York Café for decades. Giota says she is well-suited for the business. “I wouldn’t be okay in an office job,” she says. “I like helping people and the constant excitement.”

People who come here are down to earth. They aren’t expecting anything fancy. - Giota Nikolopoulos, owner

Comfort food with generous portions

Comfort food is what keeps customers coming back to New York Café. Who can resist pancake breakfasts or chicken souvlaki dinners? “Our customers are not expecting anything fancy,” Giota explains.

Rather, her patrons crave familiar home-cooked meals. “When you make changes, you scare people off,” she says. However, she has made some health-conscious modifications. “We took baby steps by changing the way we prepared a few things. For example, the home fries are less oily and deep fried now. I also added spinach to the menu, so we have eggs Florentine, and people also like spinach as a side dish.”

Customers never leave New York Café hungry. “The portions we serve are really big,” boasts Giota. But she also realized that she needed to provide an alternative option for those who want less, so she created a lunch-size souvlaki dinner, which is half the portion of the regular souvlaki dinner and just as delicious.

A cozy atmosphere, just like home

At New York Café, you’ll feel right at home. “Most people who come here are down to earth,” explains Giota. “It’s cozy and like eating at home.” She admits that sometimes things get heated between her and her family just like in any regular household. “It sounds like we are screaming at each other,” she laughs. But her customers don’t mind. “They enjoy it in a funny way; it’s entertaining.”

The regulars at New York Café span many generations across all walks of life. Customers who came as babies in strollers decades ago are now pushing strollers with their own children. One of Giota’s servers has a grandfather who said that New York Café was his favourite place for breakfast long before she was born. It’s no surprise, then, that New York Café has become a Riverdale institution. “We take care of customers like family,” Giota says with a smile.

New York Cafe is located inside a historic diner in Greektown.
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