Building from success: Former John's Lunch brothers open new diner

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Building from success: Former John's Lunch brothers open new diner

Building from success: Former John's Lunch brothers open new diner

Two brothers associated with John's Lunch, a Nova Scotia fish and chips institution, have opened a diner in the Woodside neighbourhood of Dartmouth.

Pleasant St. Diner, launched by Tommy and Stephen Fatouros, was packed Monday, with a lineup of hungry people to the door.

Tommy Fatouros said Monday he and his brother wanted a larger space to work in — the new place has 60 seats — with a bigger menu and a liquor licence. Otherwise, the restaurant should feel familiar, he said.

"We're starting off simple here, we're sticking to stuff we know. Fish and chips [and] a few new things on the menu," he said. 

Country-wide reputation

The brothers both previously worked at John's Lunch where their father, Fotis Fatouros, was once the co-owner and a fixture behind the counter for more than 30 years.

John's Lunch was named in Canadian Living magazine four years ago as having the best fish and chips in the country.

His sons said he was the unofficial face of the restaurant and people liked to come and talk with him. The family gained a reputation for service and great food. 

Tommy Fatouros said even though they loved the old restaurant, he and his brother outgrew it and wanted to do things a little differently.

"That's a beautiful place there," he said of John's Lunch. "It's going strong, it'll always go strong."

A side of loyalty

Pleasant St. Diner, located just up the street, already has its fans.

"It's a good thing," said Mike Knight, patting his belly. The Eastern Passage, N.S., man, who's a die-hard John's Lunch fan, said once he recognized the staff at the Pleasant St. Diner, he knew he had to try the food.

"This place is a little bigger, a little more room, a little nicer, but it all depends on where the crowd is. If there's a crowd down there [John's Lunch], we'll come here. If there's a crowd [here], we'll go down there."

Bonita Aalders said she drove from Prospect — about 35 kilometres away — to try out the new menu. She said it was the Fatouros family's reputation that brought her to the new location. 

Strong emotional connection

Fatouros said he was humbled and overwhelmed by the turnout for the new diner's opening day. He said he and his family have a strong emotional connection to the old restaurant and more so to their community in Woodside. 

The owner of John's Lunch, Stratos Baltas, declined to comment on the new venture.

Fatouros is hopeful the restaurants will co-exist for a long time.

"This is not John's Lunch — this is the Pleasant St. Diner. And you know they're going to be there for another 50 years and hopefully, we can be half as successful as them."