BERWYN – When you think about a cup of hot coffee and a plate of steaming comfort food, it’s not a cafe you want – it’s a coffee shop.
A coffee shop is the kind of place where a waitress can serve a steak, lamb shishkabobs, spaghetti, a corned beef sandwich, chop suey and a breakfast skillet, all at the same table and all really good. A place where you can be enveloped in the privacy of a booth to whisper sweet nothings or tell someone “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Connie’s Family Restaurant, 3271 S. Harlem Ave., celebrated a grand re-opening Nov. 20 to commemorate its new addition/expansion of a an Event and Party Room and Lounge. In keeping with the times, there is also a gaming room discreetly located behind closed doors, but still close enough to a back service bar.
Attending were several members of the Berwyn Development Commission, Berwyn officials – including Mayor Robert Lovero and Alderman Nona Chapman – and staff and family. None were strangers to the restaurant.
Since 1944, Connie’s has been open for business on the corner of Harlem and Stanley avenues. It started as a diner and bar. About 38 years ago, a young Bill Sotiropoulos came to Connie’s as a cook. He met his wife, Tula. In the late ‘70s Bill and Tula would become the new owners, turned the diner around and crafted it into the restaurant model it is today.
‘We feel like we’re a niche,” said Andy Sotiropoulos, Bill and Tula’s son. “We try to be everyone’s home away from home.”
In March, the restaurant will celebrate 70 years of business in Berwyn.
“I think it’s impressive that a business is 70 years running, especially a family business that relies on the community,” Andy Sotiropoulos said. “I promised my father I would be here for the 100th.”
Restaurants don’t stay in business because people like the pattern of the silverware – it’s the food – and Connie’s has long been recognized as the “Emperors of Breakfast “ by food critics. It also takes great pride in its cheeseburgers, also regionally known as among the best around.
“We don’t cut corners,” Andy Sotiropoulos said. “We wouldn’t ever serve anything to a customer we wouldn’t serve to our family.”
Obviously that philosophy works. Berwyn Development Corporation vice president Jousef Mondragon said he and his family are frequent customers and called Connie’s “a staple of the community.”
Mayor Lovero said he and city staff come to Connie’s quite often because “you are treated like family.”
Being like family, also means everybody knows your name – and dining habits.
“You know what day you’re going to see certain people who come in for the same thing.” Andy Sotiropoulos said.