But Paul Vasiliadis manages to do just that, and it is for this reason that his business – The Avenue Diner at 91-06 Jamaica Avenue – is being honored as Business of the Year at this year’s Woodhaven Celebration and Fundraiser.
Vasiliadis is a member of the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Kiwanis Club, a global organization that focuses on changing the world by serving and helping children, one at a time. Not only is Vasiliadis a member, but the Kiwanis hold their meeting twice a month at The Avenue Diner on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m..
Vasiliadis and The Avenue Diner also sponsored a baseball team in WORKS Little League this year, and has opened its doors several times to local groups and organizations for meetings.
Vasiliadis came to Woodhaven in early 2009, taking over the location when the beloved Forest View Restaurant closed after serving our community for several decades. He had previously managed a restaurant in Manhattan called Trolley’s, but when his lease expired he was looking for a different kind of experience and chose Woodhaven and Jamaica Avenue because of its foot traffic.
An extensive renovation followed, and The Avenue Diner opened to the delight of many, particularly the regulars who were accustomed to having a place to call their home at mealtime.
But running a business that is open seven days a week is a demanding job. Vasiliadis notes that he has taken just eight days off over the past five-plus years, and four of those days were recently when his brother agreed to spell him for a bit.
And Vasiliadis is assisted every morning by his father, Jimmy, who opens the restaurant and handles the early morning shift. “I really don’t know what I’d do without him,” he says.
Like all good local businesses, The Avenue Diner also helps our local community by providing employment. It is important to keep in mind that there are nine people who live locally that work there.
Our local economy is quite fragile, and much of it depends on people who live here trying their best to keep as much of their money right here in the community by shopping and eating locally.
Looking ahead, Vasiliadis is concerned over the upcoming closure of Jembro, just a few doors down. This follows the closing of the Chase Bank on the next block and the language school above it. “A restaurant really depends on foot traffic, any business does,” he says. “This isn’t going to help.”
But he remains optimistic that something else will move in quickly. Jamaica Avenue does have a high occupancy rate compared to other business districts and a successful business a few doors down could only help him. He says a business like Old Navy would be very welcome as it would keep residents shopping local and would bring in potential business from outside the community.
In the meantime, Vasiliadis and the staff at The Avenue Diner continue to work hard to provide quality food to its patrons. The Avenue Diner also delivers, so treat yourself to lunch or dinner by calling (718) 441-0582.
The Avenue Diner also caters parties and you can view their menu at www.avenuediner.net. If you need a place to hold your party, they have a back room which can accommodate about 55 people very comfortably.
I look forward to seeing The Avenue Diner honored as Business of the Year this October 10 at Roma View. All proceeds from the fundraiser goes to the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association to assist their ongoing efforts to make our community a better place to live.
Tickets to the fundraiser can be purchased online at woodhaven-nyc.org or projectwoodhaven.com, or you can call the WRBA at (718) 296-3735.