Are you or someone you love intent on opening a diner, but unsure how to build a loyal and adoring clientele? One word: mural. Ever since Main Street Diner's grand opening on July 20, hardly a day has gone by when someone wasn’t posing in front of the 50-foot work by noted NYC graffiti artist Sandra “Lady Pink” Smith. Usually that person is a Sayville resident, which stands to reason, as the mural is devoted almost entirely to the letters S-A-Y-V-I-L-L-E, each 3D-looking and painted with mini-versions of town landmarks, in the manner of those old Greetings From postcards.
“I wanted something that would make the people of Sayville come out,” said Marino Francomihalos, Main Street’s co-owner. “I wanted Sayville to light up, to pop up.”
Of course, he also wanted Sayville to turn up — at his restaurant — and knew that a rebranding of sorts was needed, given that his eatery was the diner-formerly-known-as-Sea-Crest-Palace, about which a cursory search of online reviews during its last days revealed worn-looking tables, dead plants in the windows, cold pancakes and atrocious service.
Although Francomihalos had worked in restaurants before, “this is the first place I’ve owned.” Luck was not on his side when he took over the place in February, but while COVID-19 closed the diner down almost immediately, it also gave Francomihalos and his team ample time to make some dramatic renovations. The dining room gleams in black and white, giving Main Street a spiffy, modern look that’s “more restaurant than diner.” A streamlined menu continues that emphasis, as does a screened outdoor area with seating for 30 that, on the night I visited, featured the music of a fine young keyboardist.
“I love this town,” says Francomihalos, who was introduced to it by his son, a Sayville resident. And if his mural is any indication, the affection goes both ways.
“Everybody loves it.”
Main Street Diner is at 229 W. Main St. in Sayville, 631-567-5376, themainstreetdiner.com. Opening hours are Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to midnight.