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General News

Stratis Morfogen’s Diner 24 Hires Yiayias as Pastry Chefs

NEW YORK – Greek-American Stratis Morfogen’s Diner 24, 283 3rd Avenue in Manhattan’s Gramercy neighborhood, was featured in the New York Post for hiring pastry chefs from an untapped demographic – yiayias and church ladies.

“When New York City restaurateur Stratis Morfogen was hiring for his new Gramercy restaurant Diner 24, he didn’t look to hot young pastry chefs with culinary school diplomas,” the Post reported, adding that “instead, he asked friends at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead, Long Island, near where he grew up, if any of its older members would want to make some extra dough whipping up traditional baked goods.”

“He drew inspiration from his own mother, who would volunteer every June and July at Greek festivals making pastries,” the Post reported.

“I said, ‘lets find those ladies – we call them the church ladies,’” Morfogen told the Post. “They really know how to do the old Greek pastries.”

He soon found the Greek pastry experts he needed.

“The interviews were hilarious,” he told the Post. “The youngest one was 79 – I said, ‘That’s what we want!’”

“His first hire was Dinah, a 79-year-old Queens grandmother-to-six,” the Post reported, noting that “she plans to work up to four days a week using her own family recipes.”

“I love to cook and help others,” Dinah told The Post as she made baklava.

“The yiayia – Greek for grandma or granny – declined to give her last name for privacy reasons, but she’s excited to be back on the job,” the Post reported.

“I didn’t expect to go back to work after retiring, but I love the passion of what Diner 24 is about – so I said, ‘okay,’” Dinah told The Post, adding that she “previously worked in Greek restaurants around the city for decades.”

“Diner 24’s menu features traditional treats beyond baklava,” the Post reported, noting that “specialties include galaktoboureko croquettes… and diples.”

“Anna, an 86-year-old Queens woman who was also hired by Morfogen, is thrilled to be a part of it all,” the Post reported.

“Having this opportunity to continue to do what I love at my age is very special,” Anna told the Post.

“Diner 24 took over the Lyric Diner space on Third Avenue and East 22nd Street,” the Post reported, adding that “that beloved spot closed after 31 years in 2016 when owner George Kalogerakos decided to retire” and “locals are happy to have a greasy spoon back in the neighborhood.”

“[It’s] an absolute gem to me and my family,” Ronnie Schultz, a 68-year-old retired web developer who lives in Gramercy, told the Post. “I personally love the baklava and galaktoboureko – five stars. So delicious.”

“Morfogen, a native New Yorker and author who also manages Brooklyn Chophouse, grew up running diners, including Gotham City Diner and Hilltop Diner, with his father,” the Post reported, noting that he is “excited that his new spot is open around the clock.”

“After so many 24-hour diners closed during COVID, we are bringing back a New York City institution,” he told the Post, adding that “the sweetest part is serving the community and seniors.”

“We’re giving them a paid job and they feel great going in to work,” Morfogen told the Post.

More information is available online: https://diner24nyc.com/.

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