Fresh Start Diner has hallmarks of an American diner such as all-day breakfast starting as early as 7 a.m. Within these traditional parameters, however, the culinary team puts its own spin on the classic diner menu. Into a 14-inch pancake, they stuff vanilla ice cream and fruit or chocolate filling. Ham, crab cakes, corned-beef hash, or portobello mushrooms crown plates of eggs benedict. At 10:30 a.m. the diner introduces its lunch menu, which includes caesar salads with special house dressing and turkey melts. Fresh Start serves pancakes, omelets, salads, and sandwich entrees and bread including gluten-free products from Mrs. P?s Gluten Free Bakery.
Michael Petrakis immigrated to America in 1972 from the island of Crete, where dining is an integral part of social life. In opening Michael's, Petrakis aimed to bring the community some of the warm hospitality of Crete, an attitude embodied in his annual Thanksgiving dinners. Every year since 1983, he and his wife Anna have solicited the help of their staff and a dozen volunteers to serve free holiday dinner to everyone who comes through their doors––an average of 1,400–2,000 meals.
The quaint dining room at Michael's relies on homey touches such as stained glass windows and dangling flower baskets. Illuminated by natural light from large picture windows, diner-style tables support dishes ranging from Greek gyros to pizzas and build-your-own pasta. Those dishes are the work of Dino Tsarnas, a veteran of Cleveland Grill. He brings skills acquired there to a selection of Greek appetizers. Between trips to the restaurant's salad bar, guests can sip a glass of wine or connect to the restaurant's free WiFi.