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Somers Diner Owner: 'I Opened This Place...to Be Happy'

Somers Diner owners Kleida Lluka and Maria Lluka
Somers Diner owners Kleida Lluka and Maria Lluka
Somers Diner owner Maria Lluka – an Albanian native who came over to the United States 12 years ago to achieve the American Dream – treats her customers as family. 

Checking in with two customers perched on high swivel chairs at the counter, she chatted and joked for a moment.

Lluka, a Mahopac residents, told Patch that when she first came to this country, she barely spoke any English. In fact, she only knew how to say "Hi," "How are you?" and "I got lost." But she was determined to learn the language and started taking classes for non-English speakers at BOCES in Yorktown and later at the Mahopac Library. 

Today, she owns a house, car and her own business. 

On a recent snowy day when Patch came to visit, a couple of customers walked in from the storm. Lluka greeted them with a wide sweep of her arm and an invitation to take any seat they wanted, then turned back to the interview. 

"I opened this place not just to make a living, but to be happy," said Lluka, who opened the Somers Diner in October of 2012. "Life is short. We have to be happy. I like to be positive, good things will happen."

When she first came to the United States, Lluka was clearing tables and taking away dirty dishes at a Mahopac restaurant for two years before getting a job as a waitress at the Olympic Diner on Route 6 in Mahopac.

Lluka's dream, though, had always been to open up her own business. Her mother owned a restaurant in Albania, where Lluka used to work at as a young girl.

Although owning your own business can be challenging – Lluka works from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, takes no vacation days – she feels lucky. Her daughter Kleida Lluka, a co-owner, manages the finances and helps run the diner.

"I love every second of it," Lluka said with a smile on her face. "[I have] no regrets." 

Lluka serves a different speciality for dinner every night. Everything is fresh, never frozen and homemade from scratch. Some of the specialties include moussaka, spinach pies and paninis. 

"I'll never give a customer something I won't eat or won't give to my family," Lluka said. 

She said she knows how hard people work for their money and wants to make sure they are satisfied. 

Lluka still remembers the first day she opened her business. It was in October, 2012, and it snowed that day. She was so nervous that she woke up in the middle of the night and started boiling potatoes at 2 a.m. the day she opened. She also prepared bacon, egg and chess rolls for breakfast and "people loved it."

She hasn't stopped working hard since the first day and hopes to keep up the good work in 2014.

Lluka and her daughter used their life savings to open up the diner, build the kitchen, expand the diner, buy all the chairs, bar and tables. They are not going anywhere anytime soon and have signed a 10-year lease for their diner. 

The Somers Diner is located at 155 Route 202 in Lincolndale. For more information visit their website at www.somersdiner.com.

Have you eaten at the Somers Diner? Tell us about your experience. What keeps you going back there? 
nancy butterfield January 15, 2014 at 08:04 AM
I was so happy when they decided to open the Somers Diner. I own the Pink Dogue as well in the Village Plaza and we needed a diner local in the area. I eat there every morning before work. They are sweet and run a , nice , clean establishment. I wish them many years of good luck in Lincolndale!
John Ruggiero Sr January 25, 2014 at 01:47 PM
We were so happy when Maria opened the diner. From the moment we walked in both Maria and Kleida made us feel right at home. Every time we walk in we are greeted with a hug. It's like walking into a relatives home. The food is excellent. It's obvious that Maria and the chef know their stuff. We wish SOMERS DINER continued success!
Dawn Ann Vitulli January 26, 2014 at 08:38 AM
We are so happy to have Maria in our neighborhood. Myself, my husband and two year old daughter have been to the diner. Walking in Maria makes you feel like your walking into her house. She greets my daughter with a big hug and always with a lollipop when we are leaving. The food is delicious. It is homemade from the heart. We wish Maria and Lluka many years of success.

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