By Nathan Duke
Alex Eliassof, one of the original founding members of Astoria’s popular Mike’s Diner on 31st Street, died earlier this year at age 89 on his birthday, his son said.
The longtime Queens resident grew up in Astoria but moved to Kew Gardens Hills in the late 1960s and lived there until his death Jan. 29, said Mark Eliassof, his son.
Mark’s grandfather, Michael Eliassof, had originally opened the diner, at 22-37 31st St. in Astoria, in the late 1920s. Alex Eliassof had revamped the eatery upon returning to Queens after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Alex’s brothers later joined the family business.
“He loved Astoria,” said Mark Eliassof, who lives in Kew Gardens Hills. “It was so close to Manhattan and Tony Bennett would perform there. He was very politically involved and knew the neighborhood.”
Alex Eliassof upgraded the diner in the 1940s and became a co-owner with his grandfather, the eatery’s namesake. He lived in the community until 1967, when he moved to Kew Gardens Hills. In 1977, he sold the restaurant.
“He was a very nice, hardworking guy,” said Konstantinos Pavlakos, who bought Mike’s Diner 20 years ago and is currently one of several owners, of Alex Eliassof.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said Mike’s Diner has long been a hangout for neighborhood residents as well as a popular site for elected officials. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ate at the diner while visiting the community during the 10-day western Queens blackout in 2006.
“I remember when I was little, my dad used to take me and my brothers there,” Vallone said. “The fact that it’s still there with new restaurants opening every week in the community is a testament to its staying power.”
Peter Vallone Sr., father of the councilman and the former Council speaker, said he has been eating at the diner for 72 years.
“I’ve brought future presidents, governors and mayors to have breakfast and lunch there,” he said.
A memorial service was held Jan. 31 at Sinai Chapels in Fresh Meadows. Alex Eliassof was buried in Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, L.I.
He is survived by his wife, Nina Eliassof, as well as his son, Mark Eliassof; grandson, Adam Eliassof; and granddaughter, Tara Eliassof.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.