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Restaurant at North Shore Towers gets million-dollar makeover

Photos by Stephen Vrattos

North Shore Towers hosted an event 40 years in the making Tuesday evening with the grand opening of the new Towers Restaurant.

People started lining up an hour prior to the ribbon-cutting, which featured blessings from both a rabbi and a Greek Orthodox priest, and a speech by Mort Gitter, board president, who defied criticism and skepticism in leading the co-op’s pursuit for a new restaurant tenant.

Also in attendance were Assemblyman David Weprin and brother Mark, who stepped down from his seat as councilman for the area (District 23) to become a federal and state legislative deal-breaker for the Cuomo administration, and Barry Grodenchik, one of the Democratic candidates running for the seat.

New proprietors Buffy and Spiros Dimas and Angelo Pantazis took over the eatery’s lease on March 1 from the restaurant’s previous tenants, who ran the business since North Shore Towers opened in 1975. The Dimases and Pantazis took over a 40-year-old business, which had never been renovated and retained a 1970s décor, suffering from two-score years of neglect.

“We moved in Saturday evening, opened on Sunday morning,” said Pantazis, the restaurant’s general manager and business partner. “We spent the whole night cleaning the kitchen, throwing out old food from the previous owner, and prepping as best we could for the residents to eat the next day.”

Buffy and Spiros Dimas were no strangers to many of the residents. Twenty-four years ago, the couple successfully took over the nearby Old Westbury Diner, formerly The Seacrest, which their daughter, Gia, now runs; and 17 years ago, they acquired Williston Townhouse, now managed by their son, Tim.

Pantazis began working with the Dimases about a year ago coming from the prestigious Kellari Hospitality Group, for which he oversaw eight quality restaurants in Manhattan. He brought in eight high-caliber restaurant personnel, including famed Greek American executive chef and restaurateur Gregory Zapantis, who owns lauded Molos Waterfront Estiatorio in New Jersey and whose resume includes New York City restaurants Estiatorio Milos, Avra and Thalassa.

Chef Zapantis has also appeared on such TV channels as WNBC, CBS and the Cooking Channel, and his work has been featured in magazines, including Food & Wine, Food Arts and Neo, and newspapers such as The New York Times, The National Herald and NY Daily News. The famed chef has even cooked for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

According to Pantazis, the renovation cost more than $1 million to date and began in May with the kitchen, which was gutted, updated and outfitted stem-to-stern, including replacement and repair of the gas and electrical lines, sprinkler system and plumbing, and the installation of a new Ansul System, where once there wasn’t any.

Similar to sprinklers, the Ansul System — set above open-flame grills — disperses fire retardant in case of emergency. Top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art, heavy-duty equipment was installed, which would not only service the restaurant with ease, but also facilitate the needs of the adjacent Towers on the Green catering hall during the most demanding events.

The renovation of the dining areas, which began mid-June, is on par with a major resort hotel. Mosaic marble tile covers the columns; porcelain tile is inlaid on the floor entrance with hardwood flooring in the dining areas; Formica countertops have been replaced with quartz; stainless steel subway tiles adorn the walls behind the service counter; and there is new custom-built wainscoting around the dining room.

There will be a new bar, stocked with top-shelf liquors, wine and beer, as well as a barista specialty coffee station, serving everything from chai tea lattes to specialty seasonal coffees. Fewer booths will be replaced, but the capacity will remain unchanged, resulting in wider aisles to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.

A new easy-access storage area has also been included in the design for the aforementioned mobility aids. Television screens, displaying the day’s menu or select shows, are also a part of the new design. And the bathrooms have been completely gutted and rebuilt with new plumbing, tiling and fixtures, including quartz sinks.

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