What happens in Vegas — beloved diner owner is dead

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Alex Tombrakos, who fed scores of Brooklynites disco fries, scrambled eggs and souvlaki sandwiches from behind the counter of the iconic Vegas Diner in Bensonhurst, died on April 15 of bone cancer. He was 70.

The Vegas Diner was Tombrakos’s world from the day he opened it at the corner of 86th Street and 16th Avenue during a five-inch snowstorm on April 5, 1982, as he spent countless hours from dawn till dusk at the 24-7 joint.

“It was his life,” said Jeanne Eisenhardt, Tombrakos’s niece. “He loved the place. He was their morning, noon, night. He became a workaholic, but he loved it.”

Hugo Montenegro, a waiter at the restaurant for 20 years, agreed.

“He would come in at nine [in the morning] and leave at nine at night, every day,” Montenegro said.

Thanks in part to Tombrakos’s work ethic, the diner quickly grew and has become a popular and frequent stop for many locals, from the breakfast crowd to the late night munchies seekers.

“It was Vegas, it was a fun place to go,” Eisenhardt said. “You walked in there and it was like entering another club. Everyone had to have their eggs and home fries and all that stuff after the club. It’s just a Brooklyn hangout.”

Tombrakos didn’t only feed stomachs, but souls as well.

“He was very friendly with the customers. A lot of people knew him,” said diner co-owner Ted Vlamis, who worked with Tombrakos for 40 years. “He was a pleasure to be around and a good boss. He helped a lot of people and was just a good person. We miss him very much.”

Tombrakos continued working at the diner up until fairly recently, when he was too weak from cancer.

Occasionally, when not at the diner, Tombrakos could be found working on his Corvette and spending time with his family.

He is survived by his wife, Mickey; his daughter, Alexandria; and a granddaughter, Alexa Jane.

Posted 12:00 am, May 3, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

common sense from bay ridge says:
He was a beloved owner of the highest rated in Diner in Brooklyn. It's still the only diner I've been to that had bouncers.
May 3, 2011, 7:37 am
Tony a from Bensonhurst says:
Wow..he will be missed as i spent over 25 yrs coming to the dinner. He was a warm man with a positive attitude'. God rest his soul and bless his family' ' hail hail vegas dinner''
May 3, 2011, 8:40 am
Anne from Boro Park says:
We have know Alex for many, many years. He is my son's Godfather. This man was the greatest person around. Even if he was not feeling up to par he would never let you know that he was not feeling well. Always with a big smile and with a great big hug.

We all miss him and we wish him to rest in peace. He has a great wife, the most beautiful daughter and a beautiful grand daughter whom he cherished and loved very much. If any thing this little girl gave him a reason to hang on for so long.
Alex we will never forget you. You will always be in our prayers.
May 3, 2011, 2:03 pm
Len from Carol Gardens and Thailand says:
For around the last 10 years, I was proud and honored to call Alex and Mickey Grandpa and Grandma. Alex had two true loves in his life his family and his diner. His love of children earned him the nickname “the baby whisperer”. Children were not just always welcome in the diner but welcomed with open arms, a hug from Alex and a cookie. Nothing was more satisfying to him then seeing kids in the diner behaving like kids and enjoying themselves.

A man not know to mince his words or to overtly express his feelings was always “softened” by his pride and joy Alexa. When Alexa was in her Pa’s arms time stopped for both and you could see complete and unreserved joy in both their eyes.

Alex was a great man and the hole in my heart can only be filled by the everlasting memories I have of him. Rest in peace, Pappou.
May 16, 2011, 11:56 pm
Elizabeth Uhlig from Rego Park says:
I did not know Mr. Tombrakos, but I met him a few times when he would come to see his beautiful Alexandrea perform with the Village Light Opera. Always very loving and proud of her, he would glow with pleasure as Alexandrea and other cast members circulated through the audience after the show. What a nice portrait of a caring dad.
May 17, 2011, 8:18 am
G.p. from 82nd. And 16 ave says:
The best dinner in bensonhurst bklyn. I enjoy eating breakfast lunch. There. I will miss Vegas dinner.

I hope I can fiND another vegas.
May 29, 2017, 12:18 am

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