Though the long anticipated Monroe Diner opened its doors to customers on Dec. 10, town officials hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday afternoon to officially welcome the business to Monroe.
The Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Commission hosted the grand opening and First Selectman Steve Vavrek did the honors, cutting the ribbon with an over-sized pair of scissors.
The diner served chicken and beef kabobs, wraps, salad and refreshments during the small gathering.
Many residents who had fond memories of the New Colony Diner, which had closed in the same building at 568 Main Street a few years ago, were excited by plans for the Monroe Diner and eagerly anticipated its opening.
"Long overdue," Vavrek said of the diner opening. "These guys have really done a good job. They've been in the restaurant business for years. It's not just replacing a diner, it's putting in a new family business."
The diner is owned by Dimitri Alatakis and his wife Donna, Zenny Tziolis, Andy Tsilfides and Petrit Xhaho. They are also partners of the Circle Diner in Fairfield and the Sherwood Diner in Westport.
Despite that fact, Donna Alatakis said, due to tough economic times, some banks didn't even want to talk to them when they sought a loan for Monroe Diner. That was until they approached The Bank of Fairfield.
Jeffrey Ruden, vice president of The Bank of Fairfield, says the bank prides itself on working with small business owners.
"In community banking today, you have to look at the broad picture," Ruden said. "When you call our bank, you don't get a recording. Donna has my cell number and has called on Saturdays and Sundays. A lot of people look at this as a transaction. I look at it as a relationship. 'How can we help them grow and realize their long-term vision?'"
Monroe Economic Development Commission Chairman Lee Hossler said the diner is something the town really needed.
"You'd get out of a meeting at 9 o'clock and there was no place to go for a coffee and dessert," Hossler said. "That's what the diner is here for. Diners are a great thing. It's a part of Americana and it's a great thing to see a part of Americana in Monroe."
Raymond Giovanni, president of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, also attended the grand opening.
"Our Monroe Chamber is excited to be part of this event today, which is another chapter in the Monroe Diner's experience," Giovanni said. "From what I've heard from different town-folk, they really enjoyed the dining experience so far. They raved about it."