HUNTINGTON, New York — When The Times of Israel visited the Golden Dolphin Diner in Huntington, Long Island, on Saturday afternoon, the place was packed.
Though he was clearly flustered by the crowd, it’s a welcome change for diner owner Peter Tsadilas: After affixing dozens of “Kidnapped” posters featuring the Israeli hostages held by Hamas Gaza onto its windows, the popular Long Island diner was boycotted by delivery service drivers and took a whopping 40% hit in business in one week.
But now “business is back up,” said Tsadilas from behind the cash register of his small restaurant. Tsadilas was surrounded by dozens of customers waiting to be seated or pick up their takeout food.
“Now is not a good time to talk,” Tsadilas said. “But business is up, way up,” he said with a smile, pointing to the small crowd and tables packed with patrons, many of them speaking Hebrew.
Outside the diner, cars drove by slowly to view the display of “Kidnapped” posters and Israeli flags that Tsadilas said had outraged delivery service drivers and several regular customers.
“They would come here and try to pick up the food and then when they noticed the flags, they decided they were going to stand together and tell us either we take them down or they’re not going to pick up our food,” Tsadilas said.
The Golden Dolphin Diner is one of dozens of eateries boycotted in recent weeks for publicly supporting Israel.
In Pittsburgh, the Jewish community stepped in to support numerous restaurants and bakeries facing anti-Israel boycotts.
In Philadelphia, public officials have avoided weighing in on bans imposed by Hamas supporters on “Zionist” restaurants, but the Philly Palestine Coalition called on its 15,000 followers to “boycott businesses owned by Zionists,” kickstarting efforts to sanction Jewish businesses and non-Jewish businesses that display support for Israel.
In addition to localized, mom-and-pop business showdowns, the country’s leading food chains have been pressed to take sides in the war that started when 3,000 Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel and murdered 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
The 240 Israelis and foreign nationals held hostage by Hamas in Gaza have been the focus of widespread activism from Jewish and pro-Israel communities across the US. However, the Golden Dolphin Diner appears to be the only restaurant in the New York area at least to have filled its entire front window with “Kidnapped” posters and Israeli flags.
‘I’m not Jewish’
The humble Golden Dolphin Diner drew national attention beginning November 1, thanks to a flashy story in The New York Post.
Since that article and extensive NY-area television coverage, Israel supporters have come to eat at the restaurant from as far away as New Jersey and Delaware, said the owner.
Still, many locals find the window display to be something of a downer, admitted Tsadilas.
“We’re having kickback from the locals now,” said. Tsadilas. “We get random phone calls from people telling us that it’s depressing and we should pull it all down, that they don’t want to see this sh–t every day,” he said.
On social media, the diner has been praised for supporting Israel. So far there haven’t been any pro-Hamas comments, as seen during a quick search of the diner’s Facebook page and several food delivery service comments sections.
On the contrary: Dozens of people have thanked Tsadilas and said they wished they lived closer to the diner in order to show support in person.
“I’m from West Virginia and I wanted to let you know if I lived closer I’d definitely come in for lunch. Thank you for the support,” posted Beverly Graham on the diner’s Facebook page.
Tsadilas is not the only Greek diner owner to be supportive of Israel in public, he said. As a matter of fact, Tsadilas said he posted a “Greek Diners Support Israel” sign outside and has been reaching out to fellow diner owners.
“I’m not Jewish, but my father-in-law is Jewish,” said Tsadilas. “My partner is Jewish. My best friend is Jewish.
“You know, it’s the humane thing to do. And we want to find these people and bring them back,” he said.
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