Picking the bones: Mirage Diner hopes to feast on fallen Del Rio

Picking the bones: Mirage Diner hopes to feast on fallen Del Rio
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

It’s no illusion.

The owners of Midwood’s Mirage Diner are now setting the table for the displaced denizens of Gravesend staple Del Rio Diner, which served its last meal on July 24 after 40 years. Industry experts predict all of Brooklyn’s all-night nosheries will shutter in five years because of Gov. Cuomo’s minimum wage hike this spring, but Mirage’s co-owner says his goose is far from cooked.

“We’re very happy to serve the Del Rio customers — and we’re real close by,” said owner Bill Kontolios. “We’re not thinking of selling or leaving.”

The governor’s hike promises cooks $15 an hour and servers $10 an hour by 2018. But most of Mirage’s employees already make between $10 and $12 and hour — the increase will hurt, but the diner will be able to roll with it, Kontolios said.

“The minimum wage does affect us a little bit. It’ll be a burden, but we’re going to have to manage. Most of the cooks are making that already anyway. We tend to give wage increases every year anyway to our employees,” he said.

Order up!: Co-owners Bobby Mavrides and Bill Kontolios of the Mirage Diner in Midwood.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Kontolios and his co-owner Bobby Mavrides opened up the diner on Kings Highway in 2002, after leaving the now-shuttered Caravelle Restaurant on Avenue M — where Kontolios was the manager and Mavrides a baker.

Overhead goes up every year, and developers come knocking several times a month with offers to buy the Mirage out like Del Rio and Sheepshead Bay’s El Greco before it — but Kontolios is not budging.

“We don’t want to sell,” he said. “We like the area, we like the customers.”

But rising property taxes — rather than labor costs — spurred by rapid development along Kings Highway will give the Mirage the biggest run for its money, Kontolios said.

“It is a concern, because we already pay a lot of taxes,” he said.

One door closes, another opens: Mirage Diner is happy to serve patrons from neighbor Del Rio Diner, which closed on July 24.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.