PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Gus Vlahavas, longtime owner of the beloved Washington Avenue eatery Tom’s Restaurant, has died, according to staff at the popular neighborhood diner.
Vlahavas passed away on Tuesday after being treated for respiratory issues, according to Tom’s current manager. The diner’s staff was aware of the death, but business was going on as usual at the restaurant, he said.
“We’re trying to keep a normal atmosphere,” he said on Wednesday.
The Vlahavas family opened the restaurant in 1936 at the corner of Washington Avenue and Sterling Place, serving pancakes and lime rickeys. Gus Vlahavas was well-known in the neighborhood for serving coffee and snacks to customers waiting in long lines, especially on weekends, to get into the homey diner.
In 2009, Vlahavas passed the day-to-day management of the restaurant over to family members. But he never truly left Tom’s. As recently as this summer, he could be seen sitting at the diner’s lunch counter, chatting with customers as they came in to eat, regulars said.
Vlahavas is survived by his mother, Stella, who lives above the restaurant and often works the register, along with his wife and his three children, Tom's manager said.
News of the death was first reported by Our BK Social.
A wake for Vlahavas will be held on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Cobble Hill Chapels at 171 Court St. His funeral will be held on Monday, Nov. 10 at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral at 64 Schermerhorn St., time to be determined.