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Teddy’s Luncheonette Owner Passes Away

Theofilos George “Teddy” Nikitiades, 77, will be missed, according to community members.

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

Andrea Kane August 31, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Teddy will be sorely missed. He was a huge personality, warm and friendly and Teddy's Restaurant is the hub of Cranbury. It's where everyone meets to get a good meal, chat, share information and come together as a community. Children loved him. He would greet everyone with a big smile and hug and if you were a child, a piece of gum from the gumball machine. He was like a grandpa to every child in town. His place opens early in all weather. It's where you'll find the whole town during a snowstorm or hurricane. He loved to give patrons exotic variations of their names. Mine was Adriana. My son Alex literally grew up with Teddy as we would stop in often for breakfast or a black and white shake. Teddy would always pat him on the head and ask him about his day even when he was no longer a child. It's hard to imagine Cranbury without Teddy. I feel sure though, we're in good hands with George as he has clearly picked up a lot from the "Master." Rest in peace Teddy. Andrea Kane and Alex Hilson
Alan Stefanowicz August 31, 2011 at 10:42 PM
My wife and I moved into Cranbury in 2005. It wasn't long before I discovered this quaint little family restaurant called Teddy's. Immediately I started hearing all these warmhearted stories about the restaurant's owner Teddy and how he'd been at that location for more than 30 years. The stories ranged from his love of children to his love for his beloved NY Yankees. Teddy was one who always greeted each customer personally and was never at a loss to offer a warm friendly smile. He was a gentle man in every sense of the word and yet had a business acumen that made the restaurant what it is today. The baton has now been passed to his son George, who I expect will carry on the tradition of this great family meeting place. There's no question in my mind that Cranbury's loss will be heaven's gain. Please make it a point to reflect for a spiritual moment the next time you drive past Teddy's Restaurant. And better yet, park your car on Main Street and join us for a cup of coffee. Rest in peace Teddy, you've earned your righteous place. Alan Stefanowicz

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