So many reasons to thank the Academy...

Dimitrios Koutroumanos of Academy Diner, Lafayette Avenue between Fulton and S. Elliott Place
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Academy Restaurant, a diner at the corner of Lafayette and South Elliot, has been a staple of Fort Greene for almost 3 decades. In between taking delivery orders, manning the counter, serving one customer corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day, and explaining what Moussaka is to another, Dimitrios Koutroumanos, the son and nephew of the men who opened the diner, spoke with FAB about Academy–past, present and future – and his impressions of the neighborhood.

FAB: How long have you been in this location?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: We came here in 1984–my father and my uncle. My dad always had good ideas about where places would do well. They opened up shops all over Brooklyn. Canarsie–the Coby Diner in the ‘70s; one over on Flatbush across from the old movie theater; and some other places. And then he found this spot right down the street from BAM and Brooklyn Tech–this corner in particular. And he knew it would be a good spot.

FAB: How did you get started in the business?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: I grew up in this business. I started out washing dishes, serving donuts. We used to have a donut counter here in the front. You’d have to get here at 4:00am. Back then we opened at 5:30. It was the only food place open those hours for a long time, so it was packed all day. The quantity was amazing. And you’d be on your feet all day. Then I went to NYU to study finance. Got a job as a trader and then went into mortgages. I didn’t stay too long, though. I didn’t like what I saw, and I’m a big believer in Karma. A few years back–after I was gone, 17 guys I worked with were indicted for $150 million in stock fraud. Family guys–wives, kids. I looked at that and was happy I had come back to help run the family business.

FAB: What do you like about the area?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: The people. It’s a real melting pot. You get all kinds of people walking the streets and coming in here. And I like seeing how their lives change. You know, a customer you’ve known for a while will have a baby. And now that baby is 3. Just to see all the different people and how their lives move on.

FAB: What would you recommend to other businesses in the area to help them succeed?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: There are a lot of different kinds of people, and you got to be able to deal with all of them. Also–like what you do.

FAB: What would you like for the community to know about Academy?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: It’s a good place with good food at good prices. And it’s clean. And we’re going to be doing new things. We’re about to start serving beer and wine. Eventually, we want to have a 24-hour set-up. We’re going to renovate, get a new kitchen, computer system, cameras–open up the menu.

FAB: What would you like for people to know about you?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: Not much. I’m not that guy. [Laughs].

FAB: The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) is developing and testing a pedestrian plaza right across the street at Fowler Square. Do you have any thoughts about it?

Dimitrios Koutroumanos: It’ll be nice. I’ll have a first class view of all the beautiful people.

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Academy Restaurant
69 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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