Sudden closing of popular Fairfield diner comes as surprise
FAIRFIELD — The sudden sale and closing of the Athena Diner, a staple on the Post Road in the Southport section of town, took many by surprise.
Saturday morning a handwritten sign on the door said simply, “Closed. Diner Sold.” No sale had been recorded in the Town Clerk’s office as of Monday morning. Attempts to get in touch with owner John Pertesis, or Mina Pertesis, who is listed as the manager/member of J&J of Connecticut, LLC. The diner has been open at 3350 Post Road since 1975.
The diner was closed on Thursday but open again on Friday, with a gas problem in the kitchen given as the reason to one diner regular. The building just recently underwent major renovations.
While no sale has been recorded yet on town land records, liens from the Internal Revenue Service, dating back to the 2014, have. Those liens total $226,650.
The diner also owes back personal property and real estate taxes locally. There are outstanding personal property taxes totaling $2,026, and real estate property taxes in arrears of $105,236. Unpaid sewer user fees total $18,502.
Mark Barnhart, the town’s Community and Economic Development director, said he has heard nothing about the diner closing or being sold, and neither had Chamber of Commerce President Beverly Balaz
“I have been a regular to the Athena Dinner since I was a child, when my father would take me,” Eric Sundman, a Representative Town Meeting member from District 10, said. “The owners and staff have always treated us like family.”
While he said they often alternated visits to the Athena with vists to the Driftwood and S&S Dugout for breakfast and lunch, the Athena “usually was the place you would call for a late dinner order to be picked up when every place else was closed.”
Sundman said he and some friends took their kids to the Athena June 9, after the Pequot Library’s Potluck and Campout. “Up until that point, I had no idea it planned to close,” he said. “We are thankful for the years we were able to visit and are especially thankful to the staff for always being exceptional to us. We will miss the Athena Diner.”
Sundman said he has not heard anything about whether the diner will be reopening, or who purchased it.