- From left, head chef Dino Katechis and co-owners Billy Michialis and Spiros Patsis Argyros of the Ardsley Diner. Photo by Evan Fallor
When third-generation restaurateur Billy Michialis and Spiros Patsis Argyros worked as waiters together in New York City in the 1990s, they knew one day they wanted to own and operate a restaurant together.
They eventually parted as co-workers, but remained close. Michialis managed several restaurants and eventually opened Bella’s Restaurant, an American-style diner in Tarrytown.
Now, 20 years later, their vision has become a reality. The two former co-workers, friends and now business partners this month opened Ardsley Diner, an American diner with Greek and Spanish elements mixed with a modern take on family recipes.
Much of head chef Dino Katechis’ menu is standard diner fare – omelets, pancakes, waffles, egg sandwiches for breakfast; and hamburgers, salads, chicken tenders, grilled cheese for lunch. But what sets Ardsley Diner apart, Michialis said, are his grandfather’s recipes included on the menu – spinach pie, homemade rice pudding, handmade gyros and turkey stuffing.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon – 2:30 p.m., a typical slow time for restaurants – the diner’s 80 seats were two-thirds filled. The response has been so overwhelming that Michialis and Argyros have had to hire more staff, now up to more than 20 employees including five chefs.
As they catch up to the demand, Ardsley Diner will be open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“It was planned out that we would open in August since that’s typically the slow season for restaurants,” said Michialis, a Bronx resident. “It’s been the complete opposite effect. We were overwhelmed the first week. The only thing we hear is this can’t be a diner after they try our food.”
The location at 731 Saw Mill River Road became available after Downtown Restaurant, an American and Greek eatery, closed last year. Though Michialis and Argyros had their idea to open a joint restaurant, it never really began to materialize until Michialis had customers telling him that Ardsley was sorely lacking a diner. After hearing the Ardsley location – also the former site of Captain Video – became available, they jumped at the opportunity.
They renovated nearly the entire location after acquiring the property in mid-March. It now features bright, checkered walls, bright green seats and booths and stool counters most commonly associated with diners. The art deco design and warm colors, Michialis said, were ways to create a welcoming environment to draw families at all hours of the day.
“Old school meets new school,” he said.
“We’re a jazzed-up diner,” added Argyros, who now owns his first restaurant.
- The new Ardsley Diner features a lively and bright interior design. Photo by Evan Fallor
The diner market they enter is a rather crowded one – especially considering their location within Westchester. A mile and a half down the road is the Dobbs Diner; two miles past that is Hastings Center Restaurant; El Dorado Diner boasts three diners in Tarrytown, Elmsford and Scarsdale; and neighboring Hartsdale has The Fountain Diner.
But Ardsley, a village of 4,500, has been without a diner for quite some time, and Michialis hopes their menu sticks out from the pack.
Mike Campana, a veterinary assistant at Ardsley Veterinary Associates, said he tried the cheeseburger platter the day the diner opened and has been back four times, also trying the souvlaki. He’s recommended the eatery on social media multiple times to keep the crowds coming.
“I’m very happy with them so far,” said Campana, a self-admitted diner enthusiast. “The one thing I find in Ardsley is restaurants that start off really great often eventually lose that buzz. I’m just hoping it stays where it is.”
As a third-generation restaurant owner, Michialis said Ardsley Diner is an ode to his family and the food knowledge that was passed down to him.
“My grandfather opened up his restaurant in the Bronx in the 1960s, my father had his own restaurant in Manhattan and now I have two of my own,” said Michialis, also a self-trained chef. “I was born into it. This is all I know.”