Time tripping: Cruise back to the 1950s at The Diner on 55th

Remember the Frosty Palace drive-in from the movie “Grease?” That’s basically what you get at the Diner on 55th —without the “Beauty School Dropout” dream sequence.

The Diner on 55th has become a neighborhood staple since it first opened in 2001With checkered floors, red leather booths and a shiny silver exterior, dining at this restaurant on the corner of East 55th Street and St. Clair Avenue transports you right back to the 1950s. 
And that’s just what Demetrios “Jimmy” Anagnostos intended.

“People look at the diner and want to come inside,” says Anagnostos. “I’ve had people from all over the world come in for a meal.”

The Diner on 55th has become a neighborhood staple since it first opened in 2001. Open for breakfast and lunch, Anagnostos serves classic American diner fare. A few of his most popular dishes include burgers, club sandwiches, BLTs and omelets. “Omelets are number one all day,” he boasts.

Open six days a week, Anagnostos closes shop on Monday to buy groceries and prepare for the busy week ahead. He sources all of his produce locally and will travel outside the city if he can’t find the quality product he’s looking for.

“I pick out all my food,” he says. “I get everything in Cleveland, but I’ll drive an hour to Akron if I have to. I won’t settle for second-grade produce.”

The Diner on 55th staffAnagnostos was 20 years old when he left his hometown of Nafpatkos, Greece and moved to the United States. His original plan was to buy a bulldozer, learn how to use it, and head back home to start a construction business.

 His first job in America was washing dishes, then he learned how to cook hamburgers. Before he knew it, the plan of going into construction in Greece fell by the wayside, and he was operating his own restaurant in Cleveland in 1978.

Had Anagnostos followed his original plan, Cleveland wouldn’t have had three beloved restaurants. He first owned a 24-hour spot called the Shoreway on East 55th and St. Clair for 20 years. Then he ran Elzona, an upscale restaurant in Westlake, for 19 years. He opened the Diner on 55th in 2001.

“I only own one restaurant at once,” he says. “More than one would be too much.”

Although he didn’t set out to become a restaurant owner, Anagnostos says he and his nine employees enjoy serving the St. Clair Superior neighborhood. “This is the best clientele I’ve ever had,” he says. “My customers are kind, and my employees are loyal. I come to work happy and leave work happy at the end of the day.”

Next time you’re in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood, make sure to pay Anagnostos and his staff a visit. Since everything is served fresh, you’ll leave feeling satisfied no matter what you order.

After 44 years of serving hungry Clevelanders, Anagnostos says he’s not slowing down any time soon. “I’m not ready to get out of the business just yet,” says the 82-year-old restaurant owner. “The neighborhood is starting to build up again, which is exciting to see and be a part of.”

Read more articles by Dana Shugrue.

Dana Shugrue is a graduate of John Carroll University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media and Professional Writing. She is a full-time Content Specialist at Budget Dumpster, and part-time freelance writer for FreshWater Cleveland. When she’s not writing, you can catch Dana taking a run through the metros or sipping a latte at her favorite local coffee shop.