Elvis is in the building.
The King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s image adorns one wall of the Scotia Diner, which opened Thursday in its new location at 114 Mohawk Ave. after a nearly six-month hiatus. The diner vacated its longtime home at 49 Mohawk Ave., as the building was razed for a 51-unit apartment project under construction by developer Bruce Tanski.
Diner owner Anita Kyratzis said it started out as a joke with one picture of Elvis Presley next to the men’s room. As she was preparing the restaurant, she received more images of Presley. “I’ve had people dropping things,” she said.
Presley is just one of the images in keeping with the diner’s new 1950s retro theme. Other memorabilia on the walls include a reproduction of Mortimer Snerd, one of the dummies used by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, pictures and posters of Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Steve McQueen, old license plates, a clock in the shape of cat and a sign saying “Greetings from the Verge of Insanity.”
“Somebody gave me that because they said ‘Anita, you’re crazy.’ ”
In keeping with the theme, the floor is a white-and-black checkerboard pattern with a few squares of red. A portion of the counter even has red lights that can be activated at night to give the restaurant a different vibe.
Still another wall is dedicated to the military. It has a 9/11 patch, war slogan posters and space for additional items. She is asking police, fire and military personnel to donate patches.
The bathrooms are even decorated. Pictures and posters of Marilyn Monroe adorn the men’s bathroom, dubbed the “Man Cave,” along with Harley Davidson pinup drawings.
The booths themselves are retro, having been refurbished and recovered from the old diner.
The new space is about 5,000 square feet, compared with 3,200 square feet at the old location. Eventually, the restaurant will be able to seat 99 people. Right now, the capacity is 78. They are waiting for a few more tables. The cooks also get to work in a much more spacious environment, according to Kyratzis.
“The kitchen is about the same size as the old diner,” she said.
Kyratzis drained her savings and inheritance to pump $172,000 into the renovations. She credited her son Terry Kyratzis, Bob Hofer and other people who did the lion’s share of the work. “I paid bills. That was my job,” she said.
It took longer than anticipated to move into the new location at the former Kem Cleaners. Diner officials originally targeted a relaunch around Father’s Day, but the opening kept sliding back. Removing asbestos from the building took longer than expected and cost roughly $35,000, according to Kyratzis. It is a relief to be open, she said.
“We’re still a diner that’s a work in progress. There’s still a few things to be done.”
The diner received a 30-day grace period from the building inspector to finish some items so it could open.
Kyratzis said that every Thursday the diner will have face-painting, crafts or ballooning for children from 5 p.m. until closing.
Customers seem to like the new look.
“It’s kind of half restaurant, half museum with all the memorabilia on the wall,” said Timothy Voight of Amsterdam.
Mark Gorsline of Scotia, who has been coming to the diner for about four years, said he enjoys the good food and friendly people. He also liked the new look.
“I grew up in the 60s so I’m right at home,” Gorsline said.
Jeanette Leger of Glenville said the renovations were wonderful. “It’s something the village needed.”
Marian Bosy of Scotia was there at 6:45 a.m. on the first day. “It’s awesome.”
Bosy said she has been coming to the Scotia Diner for about 25 years and has brought her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. “We’re coming back tonight for supper,” she said.
“These are all my old customers coming back,” Kyratzis said excitedly.
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