June 18, 2013 By Bill Parry
Uncle George’s Greek Tavern has closed–for good.
After being in business for well over 30 years, the Greek restaurant known for its tasty gyros, legs of lamb and souvlaki has shut the door for good.
On Monday, many of the restaurant’s items were auctioned off—from refrigerators, to gyro machines to 5tf lamb rotisseries.
Although a sign in the window said “Closed for Renovation,” a man claiming to be the owner said: “No renovation, it’s closed” before choking up, as workmen gutted the restaurant.
The restaurant, famous for its rustic and traditional Mediterranean fare, has been an Astoria institution since it opened at 33-19 Broadway in 1978.
Famous for the line, “Give them lots of food at a low price,” Uncle George was also known as Papa George.
The business changed, however, when George ‘Uncle George’ Polimenakos died and his widow, Maria, sold it in 2009.
The new owners kept the name, but the restaurant wasn’t the same.
A woman dining next door at Michael’s Restaurant recalled the boom years. “There used to be lines down the block for that place,” she said, adding, “People would come from Connecticut: the food was that good.
I’m a native Astorian and I remember as a kid my parents buying the best rotisserie chicken from this place, with sides of pickled beets and old school pita bread (which they handmade themselves back in the day). I have eaten here dozens of times over the years, but I noticed a decline in quality and preparation of the food since new management took over some years ago. It wasn’t that the food was not fresh- they usually just messed up the preparation part. Either way, it has been an Astoria staple all these years and I will miss having the opportunity to get a gyro and fries from this place at 4:30am. It will probably turn into another overpriced coffee or specialty beer shop overstuffed with skinny jeans and fedora hats. Yuck.
That place has been complete garbage for at least 15 years. The amount of times the health department came in and shut it down is ridiculous. Why look at this place through rose colored glasses. It was a filthy dump, and it closing down is only good news for Astoria.
This is what happens when the quality of food goes down. Welcome to capitalism
Some things are impossible to replicate. It truly was Uncle George’s, no one else could do it. Thanks for all the good years, neighbor. We loved you.