UNION — A restaurant that has been a community landmark since the early 1960s has served its last meal.
Or maybe it hasn’t.
In 1963, Gus Diamaduros opened Heart’s Family Restaurant, and in the 54 years since, the restaurant, located on the Duncan Bypass, has become a popular spot for generations of Union County residents and visitors looking to enjoy good food in a family-friendly environment.
For the past 22 years, the restaurant has been owned by Christos “Chris” Bardis, who continued the tradition of providing the public with good food and a family-friendly atmosphere.
On Saturday, June 3, however, that tradition came to an end as Bardis, citing his age and health, retired and closed the restaurant at the end of the business day.
“The reason I’m closing is age,” Bardis said Saturday. “I’m 73 and I’m ready to retire. I can’t wait. I need the rest. I’ve been working 60 hours a week with only one leg.”
Bardis’ health was also cited by Gus Diamaduros’ son, Pete Diamaduros, in a Friday evening posting on Facebook annoucing that the restaurant would be closing the following day.
“It’s not a rumor, Heart’s Restaurant will be closing at the close of business Saturday.
“After being part of Union County for 54 years it will close. These last 22 years the business was owned by Chris Bardis. Chris’ declining health these last few years has made it nearly impossible to provide the quality, quantity, consistency and service that my father insisted on when he opened the restaurant in 1963.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am posting this, as this restaurant, along with the endless hours of hard work my father educated both me and my brother and provided for our family for years.”
While its doors have been closed since Saturday night, they may not remain so indefinitely.
Bardis said the Diamaduroses will open Heart’s up again though he doesn’t know when and added that the restaurant will need to undergo a great deal of renovation before it can reopen.
Pete Diamaduros made a similar point in his Facebook posting
“I am hopeful that this closing is a temporary one!!!
“Our Diamaduros family plans to make some changes, repairs and improvements to the building and will be actively seeking some person or family ready to bring back such an iconic restaurant.
“So, if anyone is ready to discuss the possibility of a career in the restaurant business, feel free to contact me, my brother Sammy or my dad, Gus.”
As for the restaurant’s seven employees, Bardis said he doesn’t know if they will return to Heart’s when it reopens, but that if they want to work there again and they are asked back he feels they will come back.
While he is looking forward to retirement, Bardis said it is with mixed emotions that he is closing Heart’s and with it a major chapter of his life.
“These 22 years have been good,” Bardis said. “I’ve had a good life here and I appreciate the people of Union County.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.