If you’ve found a recipe for success in the restaurant business, don’t mess with it, says George Stoukas, whose family recently opened yet another family diner.
“Why reinvent the wheel?” he asks.
Stoukas heads up the kitchen at the new Sophia’s Diner, named for his four-year-old niece. A photo of Sophia smiling and waving hangs prominently behind the front counter of the new eatery.
Her mom, Thekla, also works there, as do her grandparents Nick and Koula Stoukas and, of course, her uncle George.
The senior Stoukas owned The Oil Rig Restaurant in Petrolia for two decades and their children were practically raised in the kitchen, Koula said with a laugh.
For the past four years they’ve been operating Nick’s Family Restaurant on the Golden Mile adjacent to Howard Johnson’s.
Nick’s is still a going concern but the family saw the potential in having a more centrally located diner, so they opened Sophia’s.
They bought the property at 277 Ontario St. for their new restaurant, on a triangle of land surrounded by Russell, Ontario and Devine streets.
“We thought we’d cover every side of town,” said George. “It’s closer for a lot of new customers who can walk here but have trouble getting out to (Nick’s on the Golden Mile).
“We’re finding there’s a lot of traffic here.”
Sophia’s seats 50 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is almost identical to Nick’s Family Restaurant, with tried and true meals such as a traditional roast beef dinner for $12.45, homemade quarter-pound cheeseburgers for $7 and Greek specials such as gyros and chicken souvlaki for $9 each.
Breakfast is proving popular at Sophia’s too, said server Stacey McRae.
A breakfast special with two eggs is available Monday to Friday until 11 a.m. for $4.95.
“Sometimes every table is full,” said McRae. “But we work hard and we can handle it.”
Early reports on Facebook and TripAdvisor say the service is fast and friendly. The only complaint seems to be parking, but George said customers sometimes forget there is street parking on Devine and Russell in addition to the on-site parking lot.
The only significant difference from Nick’s menu is that Sophia’s has no buffet, said Koula.
There’s even Nick’s own Greek dressing on the salad menu, she noted, and his beef liver with onions and bacon (for $11.45) is a best seller.
The new restaurant opened in mid-April and has created 10 new full and part-time jobs.
Sophia’s Diner at 277 Ontario St. is open 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed Sundays.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.