Miss Florence Diner nixes dinner hours; owner says he wants more family time
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NORTHAMPTON — Sometimes, in order to “have it all,” changes must be made.
Case in point, the decision of John Zantouliadis, 38, owner and manager of the Miss Florence Diner, to scale back the hours of the iconic eatery after 10 years of dinner service.
Closing the diner’s kitchen at 3 p.m. each day wasn’t a reaction to the economic downturn or a trend in the restaurant business, Zantouliadis said, but an effort to spend more time with his family.
“I have a 3-year old, and another on the way,” Zantouliadis said Monday. “I’m just taking more time to enjoy life.” He and his wife are expecting their second child in January.
“I just wanted to be home at night,” he said.
Zantouliadis said when the loan on the diner was recently paid off, it seemed like a good time to decide whether serving dinner until 8 p.m. still made sense.
The decision to close earlier provided unexpected benefits to the diner’s bottom line, Zantouliadis said.
He said business had been steady at the restaurant, but he didn’t realize how much he was spending on inventory and overhead to stay open those extra hours each week until the change was made in early June.
“It’s been a win-win,” he said, noting he’s now usually home by 4:30 p.m. or so, versus 10 or later before the change.
Zantouliadis said the decision to close earlier disappointed some people, but “you can’t please everybody.”
“We did it for a whole decade,” he said.
The diner’s dinner staples like the baked meatloaf and oven roasted turkey are still available, even though closing time is now a bit before traditional dinner time.
Those who insist on eating after sunset can also visit the recently opened J.J.’s Tavern in the former Silk City Tap Room building right behind the diner.
Zantouliadis said despite the change, the diner still carries a full complement of eight wait staff, three cooks and a pair of dishwashers.
“I’m one of those weird guys who wanted a family more than anything,” Zantouliadis said. “I didn’t want to miss my kids growing up.”
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com.