The Golden Dolphin Diner in Huntington has new owners who hope to reopen the eatery by the last week of August.
The diner, previously owned by Theodore Calligeros, was seized by tax officials and closed on July 26. Tax warrants showed that the business had more than $163,000 in sales tax debt and withholding debt for 2015 and 2017 by the time it was seized, state officials said.
Spiros Dimas and his wife Buffy, of Bethpage, and their partner Peter Tsadilas, of Syosset, purchased the diner last week.
“If we didn’t make a decision by last Friday it was going to go to auction,” Tsadilas said. “I was a customer at the Golden Dolphin since I was a teenager. When I heard the news about its closing I was convinced I had to do something to save this landmark.”
He said he and his partners plan to retain the diner’s name for now, and will rehire 85 percent of the staff who lost their jobs when the restaurant abruptly closed.
“The people have been lining up here every day,” Tsadilas said Wednesday at the restaurant on Route 25A. “We’re going to start off with the same menu. We’re not going to change a lot.”
Tsadilas said he and the Dimases are hopeful that the community will give them an opportunity to live up to the legacy of the old place when they have their soft opening — tentatively slated for Aug. 28.
The diner is Tsadilas’ first business venture, but Spiros Dimas has 30 years’ experience in the industry. He owns several local service establishments, including the Old Westbury Diner; Williston Townhouse Diner in Williston Park; and Towers Restaurant and Banquet Hall in the Northshore Towers in Floral Park, Tsadilas said.
“We have big shoes to fill,” Tsadilas said. “I used to go there when I was 17. This is crazy. Now, 28 years later, I’m part owner.”
Spiros Dimas could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Huntington resident Jon Ives, 70, said he looks forward to the reopening.
“It’s just a great restaurant,” Ives said Wednesday as he stopped to peer in the windows of the diner now that tax seizure placards have been replaced with “help wanted” signs.
“People are just wanting this place open,” Tsadilas said. “We were going to close for two, three months, but they really want us to get this place up and running. We’re going to do that, and probably after the holidays probably go through another renovation.”
Tsadilas declined to share details of the sale, but said he and the Dimases had to buy some of the debt owed by the former owner.
Calligeros declined to comment Wednesday on the developments.
The diner, which had boasted a menu of more than 400 items, was closed for five months in 2015 for a renovation, and reopened that October with twice the space.