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New owners renovate Embassy Diner in Bethpage, continue family tradition

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After decades of experience at his father’s diners, Gus Tsiorvas is as unwilling to change careers as he is dedicated to his family.

“When I was younger, the only way to see my father was to go to the diner and work,” he said. “So that’s how I got hooked, and I love what I do.”

Now 41, he took over the Embassy Diner, a 62-year institution in the Bethpage community, this past April.

“I came here because I wanted something for myself,” he said, seated in a booth at the diner. “I wanted something for me, my family and my kids to have.”

Although Gus Tsiorvas said “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he and his brother Billy Tsiorvas, who offers help when he’s not working as a New York City Police officer, have already started making their mark at 4280 Hempstead Tpke.

“We gave it a good shock,” Billy Tsiorvas, 40, said. “We put money into it, added 28 TVs, music, we decorated.”

Gus Tsiorvas said more renovations are soon to follow. They plan to replace a section of tables with booths, install an ADA compliant ramp at the front of the building and spruce up the landscaping with fresh flowers.

A shifting menu

By year’s end, patrons can also expect renovations to the diner’s menu.

“The menu has not changed yet,” Gus Tsiorvas. “The only thing I did was change the quality of the food. We added a little bit of a new menu — one page of new items just to freshen it up. But the menu won’t be done probably until October, before Christmas time.”

That sole page of new menu items, which Billy Tsiorvas developed, boasts dishes the brothers hope will appeal to younger groups pining for a bite to cap off a night out. These include the chicken, bacon and honey barbecue panini, buffalo chicken quesadilla and chicken and waffles.

For old-school diner patrons, Gus Tsiorvas provides a rotating offering of chef specials — classic dishes the younger casual diner fans will find more obscure, such as stuffed peppers, beef goulash and tender pepper steak.

“Nobody would know to order something like that,” he said “So I’ll give it out to try, and then I have people calling me up saying ‘What day do you have pepper steak? We have to come and get it.'”

“This is more of an old school thing,” Billy Tsiorvas added. “We’re bringing it back, this homemade grandma’s cooking. Sixty- and 70-year-olds, they like something like this.”

A family legacy

Peter Tsiorvas, the brothers’ father, owned the Seaford Palace Diner in the 1990s before helming the Oconee East Diner in Islip, in which he remains a partner. Gus Tsiorvas said his father plans to retire in a few years, at which time he will likely come and visit his son at the Embassy Diner.

After so many years working in diners together, Peter Tsiorvas needed not share words of wisdom with his eldest son. Instead, he instilled reassurance.

“Do what you do,” Gus Tsiorvas said, quoting his dad. “Your the best in the business. You’re the best operator, do what you do.”

Many years down the road, Gus Tsiorvas hopes to start teaching a third generation the family business.

“I plan on being here a very long time,” he said. “I plan on raising my children in this diner.”

Top: Gus and Billy Tsiorvas at the Embassy Diner counter.