As a child growing up in Rotterdam, Johnny Contakos didn't ever need a babysitter.
He was always around his parents' restaurant, absorbing the family atmosphere. Now he is the chief cook at Katina's, the intimate and celebrated eatery in the Capitol Region.
Gearing up for the "third shift," Thursdays and Fridays
Uniquely in the area, Johnny and his brother Chris run Katina's "third shift" on Fridays and Saturday nights starting at midnight. "Folks looking for a late-night stop for great diner food come in and have a fun time," he says. Bowlers from neighborhood lanes make up part of the crowd. In the summertime, "we see more kids from the area after a movie, or party."
Gus and Katina Contakos arrived in the United States from their native Sparta, Greece in 1962. After stops in Brooklyn and Long Island, the couple arrived in Schenectady to open their first restaurant on Jay Street.
They started Katina's more than 30 years ago. Regulars mix with newcomers every day in an intimate, old-time setting. Bacon and eggs, omelets, soups, lunch specials, and great coffee highlight the menu. Katina herself watches over her store daily, keeping a sharp eye on her menu to keep food fresh and stocked.
Katina's keeps its prices down to keep its new and loyal customers coming back. Asked about the diner's appeal, Johnny says simply, "We've got the best breakfast food around, plus always great food and lots of fun!" All without pumped in music and chain-store sameness. Katina's is located at 1818 Curry Road, near Altamont Ave. Tel. 356-3297.