On May 11, fifty years after Greek immigrants Constantine “Gus” Moustakas and his wife Georgia opened the Imperial Diner at 63 West Merrick Road in Freeport, their children, Billy Moustakas and Lana Manetto, celebrated the birthday of gold from the restaurant.
They were joined by dignitaries from New York State, Nassau County, the Town of Hempstead and Freeport Village, as well as their own families and the extended family of Freeport.
Billy and Lana teamed up with their mother in 1985 to keep the restaurant open after their father died. Gus’ entrepreneurial spirit and Georgia’s determination inspired Billy and Lana to make the Imperial Diner flourish.
In turn, Billy and Lana’s imaginative menus and generous friendliness inspired the community. All of the officials who attended the inauguration that day apparently at some point took part in the Imperial Diner’s pastries, salads, wraps and burgers.
And officials were all aware of the times the restaurant was there to help feed the less fortunate.
“On behalf of the Mayor and Board of Directors of the Incorporated Village of Freeport,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Ellerbe, “we appreciate your commitment to the community and the exceptional service you have provided to your customers over the years. We wish you much success for many years. »
“The big thing about what we’re doing right now is a celebration of success,” said New York State Senator John Brooks. “We all recognize that the past few years have been very difficult times and many businesses have struggled to cope. But in this case, we have what has become an institution in this community as it celebrates 50 years. – an incredible achievement.
“You’ve created a really welcoming environment for all of us,” Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé said. “It’s beautiful. The food is great and I just want to say, congratulations!”
“The Imperial Diner is the very heart of the Freeport community,” said lawmaker Steve Rhoads. “Every time we have a meeting here, every time we have someone we want to sit with, we’ll just mention Imperial Diner, and I don’t have to tell them where it is, I don’t have anything to tell them. about it. they just know. and it’s because of all that this restaurant has done for the community.
Hempstead Town Councilor Chris Carini praised the restaurant and the village for supporting each other during the pandemic closures, when the restaurant provided take-out food at reasonable prices and the community came out to buy it. “It really shows the give-and-takes of the community and what it takes to keep a small business open,” Carini said.
On behalf of County Comptroller Elaine Phillips, a citation was given to the restaurant by Wendy Goldstein, Phillips’ communications director.
“The excellence here is simply second to none,” said Freeport Chamber of Commerce President Ben Jackson. “I wish them another 50 years.”
Billy and Lana effusively expressed their gratitude and love for the community of Freeport, where they themselves were born.
“I’ve always loved this town,” Billy said. “My life, the restaurant and the city are all intertwined.” He praised his mother’s “courage and determination over the years to keep the dream alive and to be able to pass that legacy on to her children.”
“For our parents who we loved and respected for so many years,” Lana added, “having their dream still alive and trying to make it happen for our children is all we ever wanted to do in life.”
Both applauded their employees and remarked on the pleasure of seeing past customers now bringing their own children into the restaurant.
“I’m very proud that Imperial Diner has earned a reputation as one of the foundations of the community,” said Billy, “a reliable, apolitical haven that people from all walks of life can turn to in good times. , such as family celebrations, proms, etc. and bad, such as hurricanes Sandy and Gloria.We have strived to stay open to feed those in need, to be one of the organizations of Freeport that its residents can always count on.