At Greek diners, a multilingual mashup

Click CC for English subtitles.

— This interaction is a phenomenon present across the diners of New York City, which have transitioned slowly from primarily Greek owners and workers to a heavily Hispanic staff. As Greeks grow old and retire and their children go on to pursue professional careers outside of the restaurant business, there’s no influx of fresh Greek blood to takeover. Workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries have filled the void.

Luis "Wicho" Dominguez, 56, is originally from Mexico City and can cook anything from a greasy double bacon cheeseburger to a creamy fettuccine alfredo.
Luis “Wicho” Dominguez can cook anything from a greasy double bacon cheeseburger to a fresh garden salad with grilled chicken but his favorite thing to make is a creamy Fettuccine Alfredo pasta.

In this vignette we hear from Luis “Wicho” Dominguez, 56, a Mexican immigrant who is a cook at Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger in Greenwich Village. Dominguez has been working at the restaurant on and off for about thirty five years and over time has picked up some Greek and made a few friends at that. In the clip he interacts with George Margetousakis, 63, a Greek waiter who also works at the diner and has managed to learn a few words of Spanish himself.

George Margetousakis
George Margetousakis literally married into the Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger family. His wife is the owner’s sister, Haroula, who works as a cashier in the diner during the day.

This piece is the first glimpse into a larger work investigating the culture of Greek diners in the tri-state area. Do you know a Greek diner with a story to tell? Please e-mail Oresti with a tip.

Though Cozy is known for their deluxe burger platters, waiters have noticed a trend towards healthier fare in recent years.
And despite the supposed trend towards healthier fare, decadent breakfast spreads will always make for a guilty pleasure for the after-midnight crowd.