New owners renovate the Embassy Diner in Bethpage and carry on the family tradition
After decades of experience in his father’s restaurants, Gus Tsiorvas is as reluctant to change careers as he is devoted to his family.
“When I was younger, the only way to see my dad was to go to restaurants and work,” he said. “That’s how I got hooked, and I love what I do.”
Now 41, he has taken over the Embassy dinnera 62-year-old institution in the Bethpage community last April.
“I came here because I wanted something for myself,” he said, sitting in a booth at the restaurant. “I wanted something for me, my family and my children.”
Although Gus Tsiorvas has 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 him a good shock,” said Billy Tsiorvas, 40. “We put money into it, added 28 TVs, music, we decorated.”
Gus Tsiorvas said further renovations would follow soon. They plan to replace a section of tables with booths, install an ADA-compliant railing at the front of the building, and spruce up the landscaping with fresh flowers.
By the end of the year, customers can also expect renovations to the restaurant’s menu.
“The menu hasn’t changed yet”, Gus Tsiorvas. “The only thing I did was change the quality of the food. We added a bit of a new menu – a new items page just to freshen it up. But the menu probably won’t be done until October, until Christmas.
This single page of new menu items, which Billy Tsiorvas has developed, features dishes the brothers hope will appeal to younger groups looking for a bite to eat to end an evening. These include Chicken, Bacon, and Honey BBQ Panini, Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla, and Chicken and Waffles.
For diners in old-school restaurants, Gus Tsiorvas offers a rotating offering of chef’s specialties – classic dishes that young casual dining enthusiasts will find more obscure, such as stuffed peppers, beef goulash and pepper steak tender.
“No one would order something like that,” he said. “So I’ll give it a try and then people call me up and say, ‘What day do you have pepper steak? We have to come get him.
“It’s more of an old school thing,” added Billy Tsiorvas. “We’re bringing it back, this grandmother’s home cooking. Sixty and seventy year olds, they like something like that.
A family legacy
Peter Tsiorvas, the brothers’ father, owned the Seaford Palace Diner in the 1990s before running the Oconee East Diner in Islip, of which he remains a partner. Gus Tsiorvas said his father plans to retire in a few years, when he will likely come to visit his son at the Embassy Diner.
After so many years of working together in restaurants, Peter Tsiorvas didn’t need to share words of wisdom with his eldest son. Instead, he reassured.
“Do what you do,” Gus Tsiorvas said, quoting his father. “You are the best in the business. You are the best operator, do what you do.
Many years later, Gus Tsiorvas hopes to start teaching the family business to a third generation.
“I plan to be here a very long time,” he said. “I plan to raise my children in this restaurant.”
Above: Gus and Billy Tsiorvas at the Embassy Diner counter.