DeKALB – Breakfast is such an important part of everyone’s day, The Junction Eating Place has been offering it all day long for the past 50 years.
Chris Bahramis, 36, was born and raised in DeKalb and has been working at the Junction, 816 W. Lincoln Highway, since he was 16. Now, 20 years later, he’s helping his family celebrate five decades in the DeKalb community.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Bahramis said in a phone interview Monday. “What’s not to love about it? You work closely with your family, and that’s always a plus.”
The family-owned diner is popular among families and students from Northern Illinois University, Bahramis said. In addition to a full breakfast menu, the eatery offers lunch and dinner choices, with fresh, made-to-order meals such as handcut steaks and homemade soups.
The most popular dish is called the Trail Blazer: two eggs made the way you like, choice of bacon, ham, or sausage, crispy hash browns on the side and a stack of pancakes. Bahramis said the skillets also are really popular.
“The No. 1 thing is we serve breakfast all day,” Bahramis said. “It’s really popular when you can eat breakfast any time of the day. We have a great connection with the city of DeKalb and with Northern.”
The train-themed interior of the establishment is reminiscent of a train depot. The walls are adorned with engine paintings and railroad memorabilia, and chugging along atop ceiling-high tracks above the dining room is an electric train set, which Bahramis said is popular among all the patrons.
“It’s so cool to see how kids used to come here at a young age, and then years later, they bring their own kids or grandkids,” Bahramis said. “It’s cool to see how the community grew, and with NIU, as well. It’s just been a fun, long ride.”
The Junction Eating Place, was established in 1969 by Wayne Dozier, and then sold to Bahramis’ uncles, Bill and Peter Tsiagalis, in 1972. The brothers were immigrants who came to the states from a small town called Nestani, in the southern part of Arcadia, Greece.
“They started working in restaurants at a young age in Chicago,” Bahramis said. “They just really fell in love with the business.”
His father, the late the Gus Bahramis who died in March 2018, and Gus’ brother John Bahramis bought the Junction in December 1978 with their cousins Tom Tsiagalis, 61, and Angelo Tsiagalis.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a fast-paced industry,” Bahramis said. “It’s very satisfying and exciting to see a customer enjoy your food that you created.”
The familial atmosphere of the restaurant has been a key to its longevity, he said.
Customers entering the diner Monday afternoon were greeted by their first names.
“We have a lot of regulars that come in,” Bahramis said. “The regulars are very very important, especially in the city of DeKalb.”
Anna Coates, membership manager at the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, called the Junction a community staple.
“[It’s] a place where generations of families have gone and continue to go to eat,” Coates said. “Change in business is constant, and those lasting 50 years or more is the exception and a huge testament to how well the Junction has adapted over the years.”
Open from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and midnight on the weekends, the Junction operates with about 40 staff members.