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Marlee's Diner in Deerfield Beach closing after 17 years

After 17 years serving eggs, gyro platters and slices of peaches-and-cream pie along a busy stretch of Federal Highway, Marlee’s Diner in Deerfield Beach will close July 29, co-owner Emmy Louvaris says.

Louvaris says she told staff and customers over the weekend about shutting down Marlee’s, owned since 2001 by Louvaris and her parents, Helen and Steve Mavromatis. The diner has been sold to a property developer — Louvaris declined to say who — and the developer hasn’t revealed plans for the space, shesays.

“Both of my parents are in their late 70s, and for me it’s been fun, a Ph.D. of experience, but owning a restaurant isn’t my passion,” says Louvaris, who left her job as a Broward elementary schoolteacher to run the business. The family tried to keep Marlee’s operating with another restaurant group, but that deal fizzled out, she says.

Louvaris says Marlee’s Diner is still profitable, but her parents, who live in Deerfield Beach, plan to live part-time in Greece. Louvaris also wants to “take a break,” and has already started collecting video footage on her smartphone for a documentary of Marlee’s regulars and longtime staff sharing memories of the diner, which operated as a location of the Sambo’s national restaurant franchise until 1981. Much of Marlee’s staff have worked in the restaurant since the 1980s, she says.

Louvaris’ brother, Matthew, bought the diner in 2001 (he named it after his daughter, Marlee), but moved to Colorado and sold the business to another restaurateur. The family took back the reins in 2011, adding their family recipes to Greek staples such as spanakopita (spinach pie) and chicken souvlaki. Louvaris scaled back business hours in 2016, cutting dinner service and her oft-requested "Greek Style" dry-rubbed baby-back ribs.

Louvaris says she plans to concentrate on the documentary in the coming weeks. A closing-weekend farewell party is in the works.

“It’s all bittersweet, because it’s going to create a huge gap for the community,” Louvaris says. “We’re not a big, fat Greek family, and everyone wants to move on. But we’ll miss everyone.”

Another restaurant closing

In other news, Blue Moon Mexican Café (6897 SW 18th St., Boca Raton) shuttered June 3 in the Boardwalk plaza at Powerline Road and 18th Street, its New York corporate office confirmed Tuesday. The southernmost location of a 30-year-old mini chain, Blue Moon opened in May 2017 and was co-owned by Jeff Lewis. Blue Moon specialized in giant, build-your-own burritos, fajitas and Mexican-spiced cauliflower tacos.

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