The owners of “The Famous Restaurant” under development in south Centerville have been a bit coy about their new venture since they started building out the South Main Street space, offering only a few teasing hints on social media.
But now, owners Jon, Steve and Stephanie Thomas — who also own the Doubleday’s Grill and Tavern pubs in Centerville and Springboro — are beginning to lift that veil of secrecy as they start hiring and gearing up to open.
“New Year, New Us,” they wrote in a post on The Famous Restaurant Facebook page yesterday afternoon, Dec. 28, which offered a glimpse of the new restaurant’s concept and detailed its strong link to a restaurant in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, that earlier generations of their family once ran.
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Workers are putting the finishing touches on The Famous Restaurant, which will open in the former Paddy’s Irish Grill at 953 S. Main St. in Centerville. That space, just south of Spring Valley Pike on Ohio 48, operated for 13 years as an Irish-themed pub, the first 10 years as Beef O’Brady’s, then briefly as Tavern on the Main, and most recently as Paddy’s Irish Pub. Paddy’s shut down in April 2017.
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Co-owner Jon Thomas described The Famous Restaurant as a “restaurant/bar open seven days a week approximately 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and should employ about 50 people” in documents that he filed with the city of Centerville earlier this year.
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Here’s more of what the new restaurant’s owners wrote about The Famous Restaurant — both the original and the coming-soon version — in their Dec. 28 Facebook post:
“To some, The Famous Restaurant was just a place to eat in a small town in Pennsylvania. But to us — and to Steve and Bessie Thomas — it is so much more.”
“In 1935, when Steve was just 15 years old, he came to America from a small village in Greece. He and his father moved in with an aunt and uncle and two cousins, Pete and Gus Palles. Armed with a sixth grade education and forced to learn English from scratch, Steve settled into life in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.”
“The Palles family owned a chain of restaurants called “Coney Island,” where Steve worked as a cashier while learning English. One of Steve’s favorite stories was how surprised he was that so many customers warmly greeted him by name during his first week. Turns out, he was wearing a nametag but had no idea what it said.”
“Steve worked odd jobs until 1941, when he joined the U.S. Army and worked his way through the ranks, eventually serving as personal bodyguard to General Mark Clark. Afterwards, he returned home to Pottsville, where he met and married the love of his life, Bessie Seremetis.”
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“The two started a family and bought their first business, an upper middle scale restaurant that served American and Greek cuisine. They called it “The Famous Restaurant.” Just seven years later, in 1955, Steve and Bessie sold the Famous to the Logethitis family and moved to Dayton, Ohio, to continue creating a legacy by operating and expanding a number of different businesses, including the well-known and still-beloved Golden Nugget Pancake House.”
“Steve’s business success, however, was a side note to his strength, courage, discipline, and work ethic. One of the kindest, most gentle, generous humans around, he never met a stranger and left a lasting impact on all who had the good fortune to know him before he passed away in 1996. Bessie was and is a great mother and grandmother — the glue that holds the family together. As a pair, they blessed everyone around them.”
“In so many ways, Steve and Bessie are the true embodiment of the American dream. The Famous, then, symbolizes hard work, dedication, fearlessness, and an iron will. It drives us to work hard to pay homage to those who paved our way. Maybe the Famous was not seen as our family’s crowning achievement, but to us, it is the unrecognized leap of faith that has shaped who we are today and continues to inspire the paths to who we will become.”
According to The Republican-Herald — the newspaper in Pottsville, PA — The Famous shut down in June 2016. It operated as The Famous Diner from the late 1960s until closing in the late 1970s, was leased out to a health-insurance company for several years, and reopened as The Famous Bar in 1992. A restaurant called Wheel, which specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches, operates in the space today.
Doubleday’s operates a long-standing restaurant in the Cross Pointe Center in Centerville, and last year, the Thomases launched a second Doubleday’s in the Settler’s Walk retail center in Springboro.
Persons interested in working at The Famous Restaurant can apply at doubledaysgrill.traitset.com/positions/8338/41727.