NORWICH – Mike Koukoudakis said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he flipped the switch of the fluorescent green “open” sign that hangs near the entryway of the new Norwich Diner on East Main Street.
Now having been open for two weeks, the Norwich Diner is picking up speed, Koukoudakis said, with a steady flow of customers in search of something a little different in downtown Norwich.
“It’s been getting busier and busier,” Koukoudakis said, noting that he opened without advertising his business first. Regardless, patrons have been pouring in and out of the diner on a regular basis. “We get some pretty large crowds at times. Sometimes, it gets filled in here,” he added. “I’m pleased with how well it’s going so far, but a lot of people still don’t know we are here.”
While this is Koukoudakis’ first venture as an owner, he is no stranger to the diner business. For 30 years prior to opening shop in Norwich, Koukoudakis worked in the diner scene delivering stock and produce to small diners located in Westchester County while also working a second job at one of the diners he delivered to. “I always wanted to start a business in this area,” he said, mentioning that he has lived in the area for nearly 25 years. “I like it here and it’s been good so far. A lot of people have wished me well,” he said.
At the front counter, a glass display filled with freshly baked pies, cakes, cookies and other delectable treats catch the eye of hungry patrons when they first walk through the door. In the kitchen, there’s plenty of cooks on staff to keep up with incoming orders, and a friendly wait staff is on hand to keep things running smoothly – aspects the Norwich Diner takes a lot of pride in, Koukoudakis said. “It’s the perfect size for a diner. When you get bigger, it becomes harder to manage.”
Thus far, the Norwich Diner has operated without a hitch. Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials cooked to order bring in nothing but positive feedback about the food, said Koukoudakis. And just as much can be said about the welcoming environment. “People have said it is a nice, clean place to eat. The atmosphere is a little different. A lot of people say it’s very pleasant,” he said.
Despite an already extensive menu of dishes ranging from fresh salads, sea food, and traditional diner sandwiches, to Italian and Greek specialties, there’s still more to come, Koukoudakis pointed out. Plans are to add even more to the menu in the coming weeks, beginning this weekend with prime rib. Everyone seems to have their favorite dish, he said.
The Norwich Diner, located where Grande’s Pizza used to be, is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and delivery is offered. For additional information, call the diner at 373-3237.