A bustling and much beloved downtown Shreveport diner is quiet. The owners of Panos Diner, Andrew and Chris Panos, have retired from the restaurant business since they started washing dishes in the family restaurant in the 1950s. Over the 38 years in the downtown location, Panos Diner attracted a devoted coffee klatch. On Friday, the last day it was open, a handful of men gathered for a final cup of coffee. 88-year-old Hardy Cole is a retired CPA.
“It’s kind of a cosmopolitan place. You get to see a lot of people in here, and there are some regulars you become familiar with,” Cole said. “It’s a homey place, at times.”
The kitchen has been home to Andrew Panos for decades. At age 74, he decided it’s time to move on from the 60-hour work weeks. But, he credits the diner for keeping him spry and providing for his family all these years.
“When you work you keep on going, you try to stay healthy. I sent two kids through college, one through medical school. It takes a little money. But thank God they had scholarships. I am proud. They never gave me a bit of trouble,” Andrew Panos said, between hugs from adoring patrons.
Chris Panos hasn’t seen his twin in his native Greece in more than 20 years. Brother Andrew has a twin there as well. Chris is very matter of fact about retirement.
“It’s not time to retire unless you have a good reason for it,” he said.
Andrew Panos said retirement will sink in when his restaurant equipment goes to auction next month. He’s considering joining that coffee klatch, if they can agree on a new place to meet.