Tropics Grille Owners Reopen Andrews Diner

Owner Evangelo Karaliolios makes change for Rolando Descoteaux as he picks up his takeout order at Andrews Diner in Wilton Manors on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

(SS) One month after shutting down, longtime greasy spoon Andrews Diner has been revived by new owners with strong ties to Wilton Manors’ LGBT community.

The diner at 2980 N. Andrews Ave. will reopen its doors Thursday, June 4, under business partners Kahn Bashir and Bob De Benedictis, who also operate drag-tastic supper nightclub Lips, country-western club Scandals Saloon and Tropics Grille.

Beyond a soup-to-nuts restaurant cleaning, nothing will change about Andrews Diner or its menu, says Bashir, who signed a five-year lease on the building in May.

“It’s a smaller place and easy to run, so I thought, ‘Why not take it over?’ ” says Bashir, adding that he rehired 60% of the diner’s former cooks and servers. “Whatever the last owners did there was great. We’re going to keep doing the same stuff.”

Bashir bought the diner from husband-and-wife owners Angelo and Gerri Karaliolios, who retired when Andrews Diner shut down at the end of April. The Karaliolioses had operated the diner since 1991, steering in a healthy mix of older snowbirds and LGBT folks. In 2016, renovation expert Ty Pennington and chef Amanda Freitag of Food Network’s “American Diner Revival” gave the diner a facelift, replacing its wood-paneled walls with fresh paint and palm-tree wallpaper.

In April, Angelo told the Sun Sentinel that he lamented closing in the middle of a pandemic, isolated from longtime customers. “Anyone who comes in now will have a hard time running the restaurant, especially with the coronavirus,” Angelo said at the time.

“I dined there four or five times in the past, and every time I went half the crowds were from Scandals and Tropics,” Bashir says. “It was kismet.”

There will be 12 patio seats when the diner reopens on Thursday, and Bashir plans to expand seating to the parking lot if customers prefer it. Bashir will add dinner service by the end of June and extend the diner’s hours to midnight.

Andrews Diner at 2890 N. Andrews Ave., in Wilton Manors will be open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Call 954-563-3555.


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