The Laurel Diner is a Long Island mainstay
Nassau County boasts more than 45 diners, but when it comes to the best of the best, the Laurel Diner sets itself apart not only because of its great food and friendly service, but its 86-year history serving the masses.
The Laurel is a Long Beach institution, with its vertical neon sign a herald to its former years as the Laurel Luncheonette and Restaurant. Once neighbor to the famed Laurel Theater (now a CVS), the Laurel was known as a pre-show pit stop, a place where guests could buy candy and soda for cheap or stop in for an ice-cream soda or signature Cherry Lime Rikki.
Now under the ownership of Chris Loucas and his sons, Andrew and Peter Loucas, the Laurel remains a tribute to a bygone era. Vintage movie posters from the Laurel Theater line the walls and guests can still satisfy their sweet tooth with a treat from the glass candy counter. For the Loucas’ family, maintaining the Laurel’s legacy while continuing to satisfy customers is no short order.
“We’re lucky to be part of the Laurel’s history and we hope that we’ve lived up to its name and quality and service,” said Andrew. “We hope to continue to improve on it and deliver every day to customers what they’re expecting, which is quality service and great food at a quality price.”
Executive chef and patriarch Chris successfully owned and operated multiple restaurants in New York City since 1973, with his sons Chris and Andrew joining him after several years in the corporate world. The trio took over the Laurel in January 2006 and while they’ve maintained the legacy of the restaurant, they’ve also been able to adapt to changes in the industry.
“Increased competition forces us to differentiate,” noted Andrew. “There’s been increased labor rates and wages and food increases. Costs go up so we unfortunately have to increase our prices. But we try to bring in higher quality products.”
Those products include farm fresh eggs from Pennsylvania and choice steaks. Andrew notes that while the diner sees a steady stream of customers all day, breakfast is usually the busiest time with the pancakes voted best in the area on multiple occasions. Diners also rave about the steaks—choice cuts of beef brought out on sizzling skillets—as well as the hamburgers and sandwiches.
And while the food is the main attraction, what keeps customers pulling up their stools is the service, with the staff (many whom have been around prior to the Loucas’ taking over) knowing the names of most of their guests and treating them all like family.
“Our customers are like extended family,” said Andrew, noting that some regulars come in two times a day. “A lot of customers are loyal not only to us, but to the Laurel itself. They’ve been coming for generations.”
The Laurel Diner is at 300 W Park Ave. in Long Beach. Find out more at www.laureldiner.com.