Who, pray tell, is “Tiny,” the namesake of the new diner on Riverdale Avenue? Is it the comely waitress featured on the diner’s menus and bright red and blue sign?
Tiny, in fact, is Dimitre Boyukliev, the 6-foot-6-inch, 350-pound owner, whose physical proportions are dwarfed by his plans for the already bustling new establishment, which opened its doors three weeks ago.
“It’s a blast from the past but it has a modern twist to it,” said Mr. Boyukliev. The observation is true on many levels.
Tiny’s looks like a classic 50s burger and soda fountain joint, with a wall decorated with checkerboard tiles and red and white booth seats that could have been stripped from a classic Chevy. In its entranceway, it has a knockoff of a classic payphone, with free calls for patrons.
The modern twists of which Mr. Boyukliev speaks include a row of elegant pendant lamps illuminating the bar stool counter and three unobtrusive plasma TV screens. Most interesting is a row of multi-colored neon lights, hidden near the ceiling, which come to life when Mr. Boyukliev dims the diner’s main lighting in the evening.
Tiny’s other “blasts from the past” include its location — the former home of the long-standing Blue Sky Diner.
“We know that people ate there for a long time and we kept a few things,” said Mr. Boyukliev, pointing to the support structure underneath the counter. “We just touched them up a little.”
Mr. Boyukliev and his family immigrated to the Bronx from Bulgaria in 1998. His father Lubo and brother Miro work with Tiny at the diner. Valentina, his mom, has been a longtime fixture at Mother’s Bakery on West 235th Street, and his brother Rad works at Edible Arrangements nearby.
“This is the way I am pursuing the American Dream,” said Demitre, 23, a graduate of the High School of American Studies at Lehman College and Baruch College. “I spend 18 hours a day here thinking of ways to make the diner even better.”
Judging by the teeming tables — at breakfast and even at midnight — Tiny’s Diner is already being well received.