The Story of New Way Lunch

History photo booths and counterThe original owner, John Floro, traveled from Greece to New York City in 1916 to work a fruit stand in Brooklyn New York owned by his brothers. Shortly after he married Mary Lascaris and they had three daughters. As time went on it became apparent that John and his brothers could no longer run the fruit stand together. His brothers returned to Greece and John took three months off traveling upstate looking for a place for his growing family. He ended up in Glens Falls where he came upon the New Way Lunch in August of 1919. John, Mary and Mary’s brother James all worked the business as did so many other family members. The restaurant was a great employer for family and friends of the Floro clan. Many direct decedents of John and Mary have worked the business throughout its history.

Once in Glens Falls John and Mary had two more daughters, making a total of five sisters; Constance, Margaret, Diamond, Angela, and Themetria. Themetria is the last living daughter. The restaurant has seen many difficult times, especially the great depression. John was a very generous man helping people in need when he could, even allowing one homeless man to sleep on a cot in the basement while he did odd jobs to survive. Although the restaurant has seen hard times it also enjoyed great times. At the end of WWII, on VJ day, was the only time in the history of the New Way Lunch that we ran out of hotdogs and out of everything else including soda and beer.

In the 40’s John had a great idea to sell hotdogs out of a food truck. He enlisted his daughters, Angela, Diamond, and Themetria (Toly) to travel to places like Lake George Village, football games, and other events selling hotdogs out the truck. The rickety old truck was fondly named Zenobia by the girls. It was so successful, especially in Lake George Village that the Village fathers told them to leave and never come back.
History photo of front of the diner
As most people remember, the original location was open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, catering to the blue collar workers who had odd hours and of course people out and about on South Street. People often reminisce about the all red bathrooms in the back of the original location. In fact the first time the store ever closed was when Franklin D Roosevelt died and the government mandated all businesses close during the funeral. The New Way Lunch could not lock the door because the family could not find the key and John had to stay in the store until it was time to reopen.

John Floro passed away in 1950. Margaret’s husband, George Kokoletsos, became the majority owner. Angela, Diamond, and Toly continued to work the business along with George. Overtime the only sister left working the business was Angela.

New Way Lunch closed during the ice storm of 1964. Power was out throughout the city. All businesses had to close because there was no electricity. Being stubborn Greeks, the New Way Lunch stayed open without electricity, but with natural gas to cook and camping lanterns to light up the store. However, one lantern was accidentally tipped over by an employee catching the entire counter on fire. John the Banana man who was working that night grabbed the money jumped over the counter and out the door. Weeks later the store was repaired and reopened.

George Kokoletsos retired from the business in 1972.

Peter Gazetos, one of Angela’s three children came into help the families’ business in the late 1970’s. Peter worked the nightshift from 7pm to 4am daily for many years. In the spring of 1990 he took full ownership of the New Way Lunch.

In June of 1998 Peter, with the help of his wife Susan, opened the New Way’s second location in Queensbury. Susan began to work the business full time in 1999.

Angela, one of John Floro’s daughters, passed away in 2004 working almost every day until a few weeks before her passing. She spent 60 years in the New Way Lunch always saying “Would you like another hotdog or a piece of pie?” with a smile.

Front of New Way Lunch nowFrom there the couple moved the South Street store from its original location on 54 South Street to 21 South Street in 2006 seeing a great opportunity to have a newer building with parking.

They soon expanded once again opening a third location in Warrensburg in 2011 with the help of their children Nicholas and Alexandria.

Peter, Susan, Nicholas, and Alexandria now all work the businesses together, keeping the family tradition alive and hoping to preserve the New Way Lunch for future generations. Nicholas and Alexandria, the fourth generation, will be operating the New Way Lunch’s in the future in much the same fashion as their great grandfather did nearly 100 years ago.
Staff sitting in booth

New Way Lunch will celebrate 100 years in business!

Do You Have a New Way Lunch Story?

Did your grandfather introduce New Way Lunch to you as a kid? Did you once eat 10 hot dogs in one setting? With 100 years of business, we have all shared some good times.  Tell us your story! We’d love to hear from you.

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