Well-known and loved business owner of Teddy’s Luncheonette, Theofilos George “Teddy” Nikitiades, 77, died Aug. 25. According to some in the township, he will be sorely missed.
Originally from Greece, Nikitiades immigrated to New York City, and eventually to Cranbury where he opened the popular eatery in 1973.
“He was a celebrity and will be very much missed by everyone in town,” said Jerry Stryker, who worked for Nikitiades for 30 years as a waitress and now works as a hostess.
Nikitiades is also remembered as someone who would do whatever he could for anyone.
“Teddy helped everyone he could, however he could,” Stryker said. “He was a very generous man. If you needed something, he would do what he could to help you.”
Remembered as being someone who would sit at the front of the luncheonette near the window, Nikitiades would greet customers, such as Frank Brown, a Cranbury resident.
“He was a tremendous person, an icon of Cranbury,” Brown said. “He loved kids and was always interactive with everyone that came in [to the restaurant].”
Brown continued, “Teddy knew everyone in town and they knew him. He was a tremendous Yankees fan--a die-hard Yankees fan. He was also an honorary member of the fire department and the Lions’ Club."
According to Brown, Nikitiades would work 15 to 16 hours a day at the luncheonette, until he became ill. His work ethic is what helped make the restaurant the staple it has been, and will continue to be, Stryker said.
Cranbury Township Committee member Jay Taylor, who grew up with Nikitiades’ son George, and remains good friends with him, said that Nikitiades did much for Cranbury.
“He did a tremendous amount for the community and really helped it. He supported the Lions’ Club, donated food to the Cranbury Fire Department every year for Cranbury Day, for their fundraiser. He supplied Thanksgiving dinners to a number of elderly residents who didn’t have family,” Taylor said.
The township passed a resolution honoring Nikitiades for his dedication towards helping Cranbury, and he was awarded the key to Cranbury by the mayor.
“He was one of those one in a lifetime individuals that you meet and you could count yourself blessed if you knew him,” Taylor said.
Tribute was paid to Nikitiades by the township through an online announcement that read: “As you know, Teddy was a long-time Cranbury businessman and many residents and non-residents have often eaten at Teddy's Luncheonette throughout the years. The Township of Cranbury would like to convey its sympathy to Kathy, Teddy's wife as well as his family members and friends at this difficult time. He will be greatly missed.”
“Teddy sat at the front booth for a long time and greeted people and talked with them about their problems, and did the same with me,” Stryker said. “He was like a father figure and I’ll miss him.”
The following arrangements have been announced:
Funeral: 10 a.m. Wednesday, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 1200 Klockner Road, Hamilton Twp.
Burial: Holy Cross Burial Park, South Brunswick.
Arr: Barlow & Zimmer