BY BENJAMIN FANG
As a prominent businessman, philanthropist and community leader, Dimitrios “Jimmy” Kaloidis left an indelible mark on New York City and beyond. He will be honored posthumously at the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Person of the Year awards.
Born in Petrina, part of the Laconia region of Greece, Kaloidis arrived in the United States in 1955 at 21 years old. He married Georgia Christou Manolakos, who is also from Laconia, in 1974 before moving to Upper Brookville on Long Island. T
ogether, they founded a chain of diners and restaurants named after states from across the country, including the Nevada Diner and the Georgia Diner in Elmhurst. In 1997, Kaloidis, in partnership with George Makkos, was awarded a long-term concession to operate the banquet and event facility Terrace on the Park at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
In addition to their entrepreneurial success, the Kaloidis family gave back to many Hellenic causes, educational facilities and religious and cultural institutions in both the United States and in Greece. Some of their largest donations were made to the Holy Cross Parochial School, which was officially renamed The Dimitrios and Georgia Kaloidis Parochial School, as well as the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Bay Ridge.
The family contributed $800,000 to the school’s cultural and educational center, as well as $1 million for the church’s life insurance policy. Every year, they pay the tuition for the three top students at the parochial school. Other donations include $100,000 for the Laconian Cultural Center, $1 million for the Cardiovascular Center at New York Hospital in Queens and $50,000 to the St. Demetrios Cathedral Parochial School in Astoria.
Outside of the United States, the couple donated $50,000 to the Aniaton Hospital in Sparta, Greece, to purchase a transport vehicle for the children’s ward. In 2015, they gave $150,000 to New York’s Cosmos FM, a Hellenic radio station that broadcasts under the aegis of the Greek American Educational Public Information System. The station’s new broadcast studio was named after Dimitrios and Georgia Kaloidis.
Their generosity over the years has garnered recognition and accolades. In 2002 and 2003, Dimitrios and Georgia each received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. They have also been honored by the Pan Gregorian Federation, the Federation of Dodecanese of USA, the Council of Hellenes Abroad and others. Elected officials such as former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. also recognized their philanthropy.
This past September, Dimitrios Kaloidis passed away in Greece at the age of 85. Eleni Thermos, the controller for Terrace on the Park, worked for Kaloidis for two decades. She said he was a great philanthropist who loved all children and always gave back.
As the co-owner of the banquet facility, he always had a “hello” and a “how are you” for all of the staff, Thermos said. “His office was always open, he never turned anyone away” she said. “He was a very good man, and he will be very deeply missed.”