Cheap Eats: South York Diner aims to please the people
If you go to the South York Diner in York Township, order the chicken potpie.
Owner Steve Skouras, 63, said his customers tell him it's as good as their grandmother's - or better.
"They call it Pennsylvania Greek potpie," said Skouras, who was born in Greece and moved to the area in 1969.
The potpie wasn't on special the day I stopped by, but I give it the Cheap Eats approval, regardless.
I ordered a Greek salad with chicken after noticing the subtle Greek influence on the lengthy menu comprised mostly of diner and Pennsylvania Dutch favorites. The salad was on special and came with a cup of soup.
I opted for beef vegetable over chicken noodle. I'm not a frequent diner-goer, but most diner cooks know how to make a good soup. It was filled with tomatoes, carrots, lima beans, corn and peas, and it had the right amount of salt.
The server brought my salad soon after, and it was served with pita and tzatziki sauce. I knew I wouldn't finish it, so I asked for the dressing on the side so I could bring leftovers home without the lettuce getting soggy. The chicken was tender, and the iceberg lettuce, green peppers and onions were crisp. It also had Kalamata olives and tomatoes.
The restaurant has a counter and plenty of tables and booths. Its country-diner décor looks like it hasn't changed much throughout the years. The atmosphere is welcoming, and the customers looked at ease.
The menu size and daily specials at diners always amaze me. I like the idea of offering something new every day. It lures customers who like variety, but the staples bring back regulars, too.
Skouras starts his day at 6 a.m. to make specials. I wondered why his heritage didn't show more through the menu. He said he tailors his menu and specials to what many York County residents like to eat.
As a business owner for 35 years, he's had the time to get it right.
The diner used to be Donut Delight, but it's been solely a restaurant for more than 10 years. Demand for doughnuts dropped in the '90s, and diets and the economy killed the business, he said.
He creates his recipes from customers' suggestions, and he garnered skill from cooks who worked there throughout the years.
Skouras has one goal: "to keep the customers happy."
He said he hasn't raised his relatively low prices in about two or three years, even though costs for him continue to rise.
"If the economy is bad, you don't raise your prices," Skouras said. "You just hold it."
Skouras seems to really care about his customers. He built his business on what they like and dropped what didn't work. The industry was just something he fell into, but his business technique seems to suit him.
"When you please the people, that's it," he said.
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants with meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 771-2101, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @YDRCheapEats.
If you go
LOCATION: South York Diner, 2149 S. Queen St. in York Township
CUISINE: Diner and Pennsylvania Dutch, with a touch of Greek
LEIGH'S PICK: Greek salad with chicken and beef vegetable soup, $9.15
HOURS: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
PRICE RANGE: $1.10 to $15.65
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit
KID'S MENU: Yes
DETAILS: Call 843-9329 or visit www.southyorkdiner.com