For nearly eight decades during the 20th century in Oneonta, searching for a good dining place in downtown Oneonta sooner or later meant a visit by a searcher to the Diana Restaurant, once found at 156 Main St., from the 1920s through the early ‘90s.
This culinary landmark may never have come to be, had Harry Lambros not come to Oneonta for a job opportunity. Back in May 1934, Lambros told members of the Oneonta Lions Club that he had arrived from Greece in 1903 at Ellis Island. He took a ferry to Jersey City, N.J., where he then boarded an Erie Railroad coach, taking him to Jamestown, where an uncle had sponsored his citizenship.
Western New York’s loss was Oneonta’s gain, when Harry came to work here in 1917 at a storefront then called the Boston Candy Kitchen, 156 Main St. A December 1917 display ad in the Oneonta Star showed he was a co-proprietor with William J. Georgeson. In addition to being a candy shop, the two ran the Pastime Billiard Parlor in the back of the store.
After World War I, Harry Lambros returned from service and bought the business, still running it as the Boston Candy Kitchen. That changed in 1927. The Star reported that “Diana Sweets” opened for business on Thursday, Aug. 24, and “was well patronized and praised by the public. The store is an attractive one and is a most creditable addition to the other confectionary stores and restaurants in the city.” Lambros had taken out the pool tables and replaced them with booths in the new restaurant. The name Diana came from the Roman goddess of the hunt.
Slight variations on the name were made over the next few years. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Lambros rented an adjoining storefront at 160 Main St., calling it the Diana-Garden Restaurant. It opened for business on Thursday, April 20. The Garden portion of the name was dropped in 1936, and many improvements were made to the restaurant, as the “New Diana Restaurant” held its grand opening on Thursday, May 14.