Last surviving diner in Paterson, New Jersey serves its final meals

WABC logo
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Owners close shop on last diner in Paterson, New Jersey
The community of Paterson bid farewell to the oldest, and sadly last, diner in the city. Toni Yates a the story.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- They marked the end of an era Wednesday in Paterson, New Jersey.

Mayor Andre Sayegh joined the owners and longtime customers for a final lunch at Nicholas Diner.

After 43 years, the local landmark on East Railway Avenue is closing for good.

Nicholas Diner was the oldest and last remaining diner in Paterson, opened by Nicholas and Georgia Doukas in 1979.

"We had a wonderful time," said Georgia. "And everybody is family. But we are running out of age. We gotta go!"

"I love them all, my customers... all my customers," said Nicholas. "I'm too old, can't work no more."

Diners have a storied history in New Jersey. One of the biggest makers, Silk City Diners, made these prefabricated restaurants starting in 1926.

"They were marketed as, 'Own your own business,'" said Heather Garside, curator of the Paterson Museum. "They even stocked them with what you needed!"

The Garden State had hundreds in its heyday. But since then, the pandemic hurt many of the smaller ones.

"We're seeing a lot of those original diners close," Garside said. "They can't make a profit and make it profitable to stay open."

Nicholas Diner had its loyal customers even before the Doukases took over. It was known as Chappy's Diner back then.

But now it's time for family, Nicholas and Georgia say. And as they wrap up, so does the story of diners in Paterson.

Mayor Sayegh took time to honor the diner's longstanding contribution to the Paterson community and recognized the hard work and dedication of the owners and staff over the years.

And longtime customers paid tribute to four decades of success and kindness.

"When I (first) came, coffee was 50 cents, breakfast was $2.50," said a man known as Winky.

"People would come with no money. Nick would feed them, always a gentleman," said Billy, another loyal customer.

Customer Jim Vollaro praised the good food served fast. "Corned beef and cabbage," he said. "Breakfast was good, too!"

On this final day, Nick was on the grill like always and Georgia on the register - closing down the same way they opened up so many years ago.

ALSO READ | New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver dies at 71

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who was serving as acting governor, has died after being taken to a hospital for an undisclosed medical issue.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New Jersey news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.