Alex Tombrakos, who fed scores of Brooklynites disco fries, scrambled eggs and souvlaki sandwiches from behind the counter of the iconic Vegas Diner in Bensonhurst, died on April 15 of bone cancer. He was 70.
The Vegas Diner was Tombrakos’s world from the day he opened it at the corner of 86th Street and 16th Avenue during a five-inch snowstorm on April 5, 1982, as he spent countless hours from dawn till dusk at the 24-7 joint.
“It was his life,” said Jeanne Eisenhardt, Tombrakos’s niece. “He loved the place. He was their morning, noon, night. He became a workaholic, but he loved it.”
Hugo Montenegro, a waiter at the restaurant for 20 years, agreed.
“He would come in at nine [in the morning] and leave at nine at night, every day,” Montenegro said.
Thanks in part to Tombrakos’s work ethic, the diner quickly grew and has become a popular and frequent stop for many locals, from the breakfast crowd to the late night munchies seekers.
“It was Vegas, it was a fun place to go,” Eisenhardt said. “You walked in there and it was like entering another club. Everyone had to have their eggs and home fries and all that stuff after the club. It’s just a Brooklyn hangout.”
Tombrakos didn’t only feed stomachs, but souls as well.
“He was very friendly with the customers. A lot of people knew him,” said diner co-owner Ted Vlamis, who worked with Tombrakos for 40 years. “He was a pleasure to be around and a good boss. He helped a lot of people and was just a good person. We miss him very much.”
Tombrakos continued working at the diner up until fairly recently, when he was too weak from cancer.
Occasionally, when not at the diner, Tombrakos could be found working on his Corvette and spending time with his family.
He is survived by his wife, Mickey; his daughter, Alexandria; and a granddaughter, Alexa Jane.