by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—The windows of the Moon Dance Diner, once so lively and inviting, are currently covered with brown wrapping paper. Owner George Georgiou, who opened the diner with his wife Liz about a year ago, said that there just wasn’t enough business to support it.
Georgiou closed the restaurant at the end of the day on June 15.
“There’s a lot of good people in Maple Park that supported me,” he said. “As sad as I am to see it go, it was a great experience. There are quite a few people that I became friends with.”
Georgiou, who had been a commercial and editorial photographer for 25 years, opened the diner on Main Street in Maple Park in July 2011. Having his own restaurant in a small town and becoming part of the community had always been a dream of his.
This he did accomplish.
“He was all about the community,” Old Second Bank employee Chris Heyob said. “He would promote the other businesses in town, and he made it a priority to get to know people by name.”
She said that if the American Legion was having a fish fry on a Friday, he would make sure not to do anything that would interfere with that.
Heyob added that Georgiou purchased the frames for the pictures on the walls in the restaurant from the frame shop in town.
The diner, which featured homemade soup, sandwiches and pie, was decorated with hot rod pictures and other memorabilia. Old photographs of Maple Park adorned the walls.
“He made it so cute in there,” village resident Denise Rogers said. “It was a nice little hometown restaurant.”
The diner was open for breakfast and lunch, and on Thursday nights, George would make spaghetti and homemade meatballs from a family recipe.
According to Old Second Bank Loan Officer Jason Hawkins, Heyob and the other bank employees would go to lunch at the diner or order out from there about once a week. Hawkins said that the restaurant offered a different option in town; that it was a little unique.
Hawkins also enjoyed the car shows that Georgiou held in front of the diner. Hawkins owns a 1970 Chevelle, and said he was disappointed that he hadn’t have the chance to bring the car down for the show.
Maple Park resident and Realtor Roxanne Stover said she found more than a restaurant owner in Georgiou—she and her husband Al found a friend.
“It was a great place to eat, but it was just as much fun visiting George,” Stover said. “It was a great atmosphere, and there is no one with a better, more positive attitude. You just felt like staying there all afternoon.”
When he opened last year, Georgiou said his goal was to serve the community with a place where seniors and others could come and hang out and where the prices were affordable.
“He poured his heart and soul into that restaurant,” Stover said. “They will be sadly missed.”