The Brockport Diner, a Family Business
By Brandon Feehan, Cheyenne Brown-Wallace | February 19, 2018
Canalside Chronicle Staff
Many Americans can relate to the feeling of accomplishment that is gained from working hard. The hard work gives off a feeling of satisfaction. Those feelings fuel the efforts to earn a living and support one’s family.
John Mitrousis of Brockport, NY is a model image of a hard-working American.
Mistrousis, 34, is the manager of the Brockport Diner, a small family owned and operated restaurant in the Village of Brockport. The diner was originally sold to Mitrousis’ father, Stash Mitrousis, 46 years ago. Today he manages it along with his older brother, Ted Mitrousis.
With the diner being in the family for decades, there are endless amounts of memories created in the four walls.
“I was coming as a young kid, [at] probably 8 years old. When we didn’t have school, my dad would bring us along for a day at work,” said Mitrousis. “It was fun. We ran around over here – in the kitchen,” Mitrousis said with a laugh, pointing to the far-right area of the diner that faces Erie Street.
Though Mitrousis grew up coming to his father’s diner, he is originally from Gates, N.Y. However, through the years, Mitrousis has gained respect for the village and its people.
“Brockport has a way different feel from where I grew up,” says Mitrousis. “Now I see it, it’s more of a small town. You can walk from here to there.”
This positive outlook also spans to how Mitrousis views the exact location of the diner.
“I do like having a business here, I think it’s awesome! You do get a lot more pedestrians just walking, rather than people having to drive,” said Mitrousis, comparing Brockport to his hometown. “We do have a lot of events [in the village or on the canal] so that’s great. People walk by all the time. [The events] bring different people in that we don’t normally see.”
For Mitrousis, growing up in the diner has led to many impactful lessons. One of these lessons, he says, is understanding that life, especially in the restaurant business, is not always going to be ideal. However, he does understand that struggles are what the job comes with.
“Hours get tedious sometimes. Christmas and Thanksgiving are the only days we fully close.” says Mitrousis.
Customer satisfaction is something Mitrousis and the rest of the Brockport Diner take very seriously despite its tiresome nature.
“Some customers can be tough and that’s always a tough thing. Dealing with customers that have problems, that’s always scary. When you’re talking with someone that’s not happy with something, that’s a tough part of the business,” Mitrousis said. “You want your customers to be happy. I want my customers to be happy.”
One thing Mitrousis is extremely proud of in regard to the diner’s success is himself, his brother Ted, and the rest of the diner staff.
“Before me and my brother, my dad didn’t have the best help. I think me and my brother coming in, really working our butts off [changed] the outcome of business. It really made me feel good, proud of myself. My brother, too.” said Mitrousis.
Most of the employees have been there for over a decade, some almost two. Mitrousis credits this to the diner’s lack of turn over.
“It’s good because we all feel like a big family,” said Mitrousis. “I think it’s a testament to my parents. People love working for them because they are awesome,” Mitrousis said with a chuckle.
No story centered around the diner manager, cook and son would be complete without mentioning the food. Freshly cooked food is something Mitrousis is very proud of. In fact, he believes it will always give the diner an advantage over fast food. “We make real food, we actually cook the food,” said Mitrousis.
There is not a day that goes by where business for the Brockport Diner is not ‘booming’. Families and Brockport students continuously fill the establishment for their favorite meals. Though the world seems to have forgotten the diner aesthetic, family run businesses will not be left behind just yet. The era of the American Diner, particularly the Brockport Diner, is far from over.