Two years ago, Marwan Al-Rabie had to close Alpha Koney Island in the Oak Valley Centre to make room for an Old Navy store.
He’d operated the restaurant for seventeen of its thirty years. He’d hoped to relocate elsewhere in the shopping center but found the price of building out a restaurant from scratch–an estimated $200,000–far too steep.
Since then, Al-Rabie has cooked in other area restaurants and spent time as an Uber driver. But he never abandoned his goal of owning another place. “It was tough, it was really tough” to be away from serving customers, he says.
Finally, in May, Al-Rabie and a silent partner opened Alpha Diner on Jackson Rd. in Scio Twp. It takes the place of the Classic Cup Cafe, which shut early in the pandemic.
Classic Cup left behind a fully equipped kitchen, so Al-Rabie focused his updates on the front of the house, taking out aging carpet, painting the walls in cheerful pastel colors, and laying down new floors.
Alpha Koney customers who’d been following his journey on Facebook immediately began trickling in. “I’d like to get them all back,” he says, along with west-siders who miss Classic Cup.
Alpha Diner opened with about fifty socially distanced seats; there will be about 120 once the pandemic eases. That’s also when the big event room in back will be available.
Breakfast (served all day) includes two eggs, any style, with toast and a choice of two pancakes or hash browns (Al-Rabie’s favorite) for $7 (a dollar more with meat). Omelettes also start at $7 and range up to $12 for a version with bacon, sausage, and ham.
Chicken lemon rice soup and chili are available every day at $4 a bowl. There are eleven choices of salads, from $4 for a tossed salad to $15 for one topped with grilled steak.
Greek specialties such as spinach pie, grape leaves, saganaki and gyros are available, along with a lengthy list of sandwiches and burgers. Entrees include kabobs, grilled salmon, and sirloin steak.
Desserts include house-made rice pudding and fried ice cream, a retro favorite that is available with chocolate or strawberry sauce at $5.
Food costs have jumped since he ran Alpha Koney, Al-Rabie says, pushing the average check up from about $10 to $12. Al-Rabie stresses that he looks for fresh ingredients from area suppliers.
“We try to get you good food at a decent price,” Al-Rabie says.
Alpha Diner, 4389 Jackson Rd.,
(734) 780-7102. Daily 8 a.m.-8 p.m. alphadiner.com