Answer to Question No. 1: His name was Mario Greco and his East Main Street eatery was called “Mario’s Diner”. A native of Amsterdam’s West End, Greco originally managed the company cafeteria at the Shuttleworth division of Mohawk Carpet. He served as Amsterdam’s Sixth Ward Alderman in the late 1950’s and later on opened his popular Comedy Inn restaurant on Route 67.
Answer to Question No. 2: Edward “Bunny” DiScenza was the proprietor of the Bridge Street coffee shop known as “Bunny’s”. A very popular SouthSide morning hangout, patrons of the establishment organized a summer golf tournament they called the “Bunny Hop.” The annual outing featured food and spirits at every hole and gave a whole new meaning to the question often heard among golf foursomes; “How many shots do I get?” Definitely an Amsterdam original, Bunny called everyone “crackpot”, lived to have a good time and he made one of the best breakfasts in town. He also ran Amsterdam’s “Our Place” restaurant before opening his coffee shop.
Answer to Question No. 3: Bill O’Day’s restaurant was known as the Beanery. It’s last location was in the basement storefront of this now demolished Guy Park Avenue building pictured above.
Answer to Question No. 4: Ray “Brownie” Krzys’s brother was Billy Krzys, who was actually partners with his brother in the Brownie’s location they operated together on East Main Street for a time. Billy’s eatery was called “The Hungry Bear” and was located on West Main Street, near Steadwell Avenue. Opened in 1973, Hungry Bear served a similar menu to “Brownie’s” but Billy could never match his brother’s hot dog meat sauce. Billy’s friend Alan Wickham took the above photo of an abandoned Hungry Bear in 2008, shortly after the property had been sold to St. Mary’s Hospital. The building was then demolished to make room for a parking lot for the hospital’s employees.
Answer to Question No. 5: The “Carmel” who founded and owned Carmel’s Diner was Carmel Siciliano. He opened it in 1912. Carmel’s daughter Nancy married Vito “Pete” Greco and they took over operation of the business when Siciliano died in the late 1950’s. Siciliano is pictured above with his wife alongside the diner’s prized jukebox. Mrs. Siciliano was the Diner’s cashier in the late 1950’s and early 60’s when my Mom waitressed there.
Answer to Question No. 6: The name of the establishment was Johnny’s Seafood and the owner’s name was Johnny Colangelo, who is pictured above. His fried haddock was heavenly as was his mac salad and rice pudding.
Answer to Question No. 7: “Jiggers” was Frank Di Caprio and he called his East Main Street diner, Di Caprio’s. As the sign above emphasizes, his Sausage on a hard roll was a signature menu item and he sold thousands during the half century he competed with next door neighbor Carmel’s for the title of Amsterdam’s favorite diner. His wife and all three of his kids helped him establish one of Amsterdam’s all-time most successful catering businesses.
Answer to Question No. 8: The Perki Dot Restaurant was located in the storefront first floor of a four story building at 294 East Main Street during the 1950’s. Prior to becoming a restaurant, the storefront was home to an upholstery business and Hillman’s Cycle Shop. A fire destroyed the property in the late 1970’s and all that remains is the vacant lot pictured above.
Answer to Question No. 9: The name of the eatery that used to be located on the first floor of a large apartment building on the corner of Division and Guy Streets was Stretch’s. It was named after it’s proprietor, Stretch DiScenza.
Answer to Question No. 10: Shep Romano’s Luncheonette was the name of the diner at 10 Church Street. It was run by one of Amsterdam’s all-time great bowlers, the late Shep Romano and his wife Isabelle. They sold the business to Tullio DeMartines when Shep took over as the manager of the new Windmill Lanes bowling alley that opened on Route 5S in 1968
Answer to Question No. 11: The new name of Harvey’s Diner after the Harvey’s sold it was Homer & Bea’s Diner, after new owners Homer and Bea Dopp who ran the establishment up until the early 1970’s.
Answer to Question No. 12: Mac Raiano and Tom Ripepi both got their starts in the food business as soda fountain jerks at the old Community Pharmacy on East Main Street. Both men then served their country during WWII and both advanced to the rank of sergeant while doing so. Mac & Tom then returned to the Community Pharmacy food counter after the war and took over it’s management. In 1953 the pair decided to strike out on their own and partnered in a new combination luncheonette/variety store at 121 Market Street (photo above shows what that address looks like today). The hallmark of the place was the sign out front which read Mac & Tom’s if you were heading one way on Market and Tom & Mac’s if you were heading the other. They worked together for the next decade, serving the same sorts of breakfast, lunch and dessert fare they had mastered during their days at the pharmacy but then in 1963, a “difference of opinion” between the two resulted in a split and Raiano left to open his new place called Mac’s on Glen Avenue while Ripepi just changed the sign out front of the Market Street establishment to read “Tom’s”.
Answer to Question No. 13: Cappie DiCaprio opened Cappie’s Drive-In on Route 67 in 1965 and 53 years later it is still going strong under the able management of Cappie’s niece Donna DiCaprio Durnick and her husband Craig.
Answer to Question No. 14: When Lowe’s decided to locate a store in Amsterdam, they purchased the Windsor Motel and Restaurant and demolished it so that they could create an entrance to the parking lot from Route 30. The Windsor Motel at the time was well past its prime but that Windsor Restaurant was one of this community’s best places to go for lunch and especially breakfast. Half-hour wait’s for a table were common right up till the day it closed for good in 2006.
Answer to Question No. 15: The correct answer is the Europa Cafe, one of the best breakfast and lunch spots still going strong at 319 Forest Avenue.
Answer to Question No. 16: The name of the former Route 30 grinder-making establishment was Pizza Chef.
Answer to Question No. 17: Photo No: 1 shows Amsterdam attorney Robert Krzys, son of Brownie’s founder, Ray Krzys. Photo No: 2 shows Buddy DiCaprio, son of DiCaprio’s Diner founder, Jiggers DiCaprio. Photo No. 3 shows Father Robert DeMartines, pastor at St. Stan’s Church in Amsterdam and the son of Tullio DeMartines, the former owner of Tullio’s Diner. Photo No: 4 is Carmel Greco, son of the one-time owners of Carmel’s Diner, Nancy and Pete Greco and the grandson and namesake of that diner’s founder, Carmel Siciliano.
Answer to Question No. 18: The first time I ever ate at the Chuctanunda Street Diner pictured above was back in the 1960’s when it was still the Maxwell House Diner. After downtown urban renewal demolitions forced Tullio DeMartines to move twice, he took over the Chuctanunda Street location in the early 1970’s and remained there until the early 1990’s. It sat empty for a long while until a lady named Jan West decided she wanted to open Amsterdam’s first barbecue restaurant there and called it; The Texas Outlaw Barbecue and Chili Parlor. Unfortunately, Jan died suddenly and the diner next became known as Emmy Lou’s which it remains today (see photo above).
Answer to Question No. 19: The name of Amsterdam’s only full-time portable food purveyor in business today is “Dave’s Dawg’s” owned, transported, and operated by retired Amsterdam fireman, Dave Swart.
Answer to Question No. 20: This Route 5S eatery is called Stars Cafe and it is operated by Amsterdam native Karen Alteri. Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week between 6AM and 2PM.
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