FLINT, Michigan — Dominic Berishaj is following in his father’s footsteps, but bringing his own twist to classic diner fare.
And, this 20-year-old Flint entrepreneur is doing it less than 2 miles away from the family’s flagship restaurant.
Aptly called Dom’s Diner, this next generation diner sits in the refurbished former home of Atlas Coney Island on Corunna Road, which was owned and operated by brothers Jimmy and David Todorovsky for 37 years before they retired and closed the restaurant in March 2017.
Joe Berishaj, owner of Captain Coty’s coney island on Ballenger Highway and Dominic’s father, saw the property as a great sales opportunity — but his son had other plans.
“At first he kind of just wanted to flip it and resell it, but as we fixed it up I kept pushing to say that I wanted to do my own thing,” recalls Dominic Berishaj. In September 2018, the family reopened the westside Flint restaurant with a revamped look, new facade, and remodeled interior featuring Dominic’s style and 50s-style red leather booths and art deco lights.
“We have that classic diner feel, but the hope is that customers recognized from the layout to all the options we have available that we were also looking for a kind of modern diner,” he says.
Dom’s Diner sports more than 120 menu items, including fundamental diner fare including burgers and all things breakfast. Standouts are 10 different shake flavors made to order — from strawberry cheesecake to superman and, of course, classics including chocolate. “It’s really anything you want,” he says, but Dominic Berishaj admits the strawberry remains a crowd favorite.
Other munchies on the menu include traditional Greek-style fried cheese saganaki, fried pickles and chilli cheese fries. The signature burger is the Dom Da Bomb, a mammoth double patty burger with lettuce, tomato, onion rings, barbecue sauce covered in melted American cheese.
“I want the food to pop. I want people to talk about their meal after they’ve left, especially the burgers. I want this place to be a destination for that,” Berishaj says. Looking at the early lunch crowd rolling in, the young restaurateur juggles between the serving line at the kitchen, checking on deliveries and talking with regulars.
“Something that sets us apart and is different from other diners is that we’re new — and have the best food in Flint,” Berishaj says, throwing a side grin as he picks up a tray of food.
From the numbers and the positive community response Berishaj is thankful and surprised by the way his business is taking off. “You know it all kind of feels like this happened on accident, but to be honest I knew I always wanted my own place, I’ve always had a clear idea about what I wanted to serve,” he said. “When the opportunity came, I think it just felt right, and I had to jump on it.”
And, he’s not looking back.
“It’s changed me, by making me a more responsible person and proving to myself that I could really do anything I set my mind to,” he says.