The co-owner of a Valley Stream diner was killed in a car crash in Bellmore on July 4, police said. His family members, neighbors, colleagues and a Merrick church community are mourning the loss of someone they described as “a very good man.”
Athanasious Cheliotis, a 66-year-old Wantagh resident and the co-owner of the popular Concord Diner, was driving his Toyota Camry on Merrick Road in Bellmore at 6:39 a.m. last Thursday morning when his vehicle crashed into another car. Although he was pulled from his car before it burst into flames, he was pronounced dead at 7:13 a.m. at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.
Cheliotis, a member of the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Merrick, collided with a vehicle driven by a 23-year-old woman near Soma Avenue, according to Nassau County police. The unidentified driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries. As the Herald went to press, officials said that an investigation was continuing.
Services were held last weekend at N.F. Walker Inc. Funeral Home in Merrick and at St. Demetrios, according to Kostas Cheliotis, one of Athanasious and Kanella Cheliotis’s two children. Kostas, 35, noted that dozens of people who knew his father through his business or the church came to pay their respects to the man they knew affectionately as “Tommy.”
Kostas said that his father, who emigrated from Tzoumou, Greece, in 1969, was the eldest of four children. He is survived by his siblings, Demos and George Cheliotis and Maria Andonakos, who still live in Greece. Their family was poor, Kostas said, and his father worked to help support them from a young age.
Once in the U.S., Athanasious pursued the American dream, his son said, working at coffee and doughnut shops in New York City and on Long Island. He moved to Valley Stream in the 1970s and worked for five years at a local diner, which he came to co-own for more than 30 — the Concord.