RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — There are so many reasons people have come to the Daily Treat in Ridgewood since 1963: chicken soup, all-day breakfast, great comfort food and lots of familiar faces.
“The customers feel comfortable here. It’s a family environment,” said John Skoutakis of Paramus, who owns the Daily Treat with his sister, Dimi, of Waldwick.
Their cousin opened the diner all those decades ago.
John and Dimi are always around. So is Manager John Galianos of Emerson. (Longtime coowner Gus Lainis retired last year.)
So are the cooks in the back and the waitresses, Skoutakis said. They all tend to stay a long time.
“If the customer wants something, one of us always takes care of it,” he said.
Everybody knows Ulysses, Hector and Alex in the kitchen.
Stalwarts on the wait staff now include Bella, Jojo, Diego and Mario, Skoutakis said.
Joanne Archer of Ridgewood, a customer since the early 1980s, recently had her birthday party at the diner.
“John and Gus were on my birthday video,” Archer said. “Isn’t that neat? It’s a very special place. All of our friends meet here and have incredible memories.”
Her favorite thing to eat at the Daily Treat is the cheeseburger platter though she also calls the chicken soup fabulous and the house dressing on the Greek salad “beyond unbelievable.”
“I’ve been coming here so long, I knew John when he had a Porsche and he wasn’t married,” Archer said, laughing.
“And his daughter just graduated from college!”
Comfort in the environment and in the food are key to the Daily Treat, according to Skoutakis, who came to the U.S. from Greece in 1968.
There isn’t much Greek food on the menu, though – “just one or two things,” he said.
People love the meatloaf, roast chicken, pot roast, brisket, lamb and fish.
Many come in for the homemade soups, including chicken, split pea, lentil and more.
At this point, Skoutakis said, three generations of families eat there.
“And when people who leave town come back to visit, this is their first stop,” he added with a smile. “We like that.”
Behind the cash register at the Daily Treat is proof of its devotion to the Ridgewood community.
The wall is filled with plaques from all the organizations the diner supports: the Kasschau Memorial Shell Committee; American Diabetes Association; Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce; Rotary Club of Ridgewood, Glen Rock and Ho-Ho-Kus; VFW; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Ridgewood and Glen Rock and more.
One of the most memorable times in the history of the diner were the weeks following Hurricane Sandy when people didn’t have power and craved a little comfort.
It was cold outside, Skoutakis vividly remembers, so the customers waited inside, filling the aisles between the booths.
The wait staff moved around them as best they could.
“We went 15 hours a day,” Skoutakis said. “We didn’t get a chance to even have a cup of coffee.”
It was a time the diner family will never forget – a time it was of special service in a long and happy tradition of service every day.