This American-style 1950s diner in the heart of Moss Vale is a newly resurrected family heirloom.
When Greek immigrant Emmanuel Benardos opened a café in Moss Vale in 1925, he’d scarcely have guessed that nearly a century later his grandson would resurrect the business and reinvent it as an American-style diner. But that’s exactly what happened.
Emmanuel, or Bernie, as he became known to his new Australian community, began serving European-style café cuisine to the pleasantly surprised country folk of Moss Vale. When he passed away in 1954, his wife and four children were left to run the business, but four years later made the decision to sell.
55 years on, Bernie’s grandson Ioannis Benardos saw an opportunity to resurrect the Moss Vale icon and keep his grandfather’s spirit alive. But he did it on his own terms, renaming the eatery ‘Bernie’s Diner’ in celebration of his love for mid century American-style diners.
Of course, the meals have evolved, too. Gone is the traditional Greek food of Bernie Senior, and in its place a lineup of burgers, hotdogs, subs and sundaes.
Chow down on the Bernie’s burger (with the lot), the pulled pork or a Vegas-inspired combo of chicken and jalapenos – to name but a few.
If hotdogs are more your vibe, top it with sauerkraut, cheese or Texas chili and onion, or try something totally different and opt for a steamed Vienna frankfort in a steamed bun, lovingly dibbed ‘The Wang’.
Bernie’s makes its own pastrami and corned beef (a labour of love that takes many months), and serves it up on fresh caraway rye with Russian dressing, slaw and dill pickle or American mustard, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Our pick of the menu is the corned beef sandwich, Russian style. Words cannot do it justice.
You’d be mad not to order a side of fries, onion rings, corn on the cob or Bernie’s crispy buttermilk wings, all served up in classic ‘50s-style baskets by Ioannis himself.
High energy and gregarious, Ioannis (who has largely accepted his new nickname ‘Bernie’) has a clear passion for diners and has bedecked the restaurant with an interior to suit. Black and white tiles line the floor and walls, while chrome and red leather bar stools and booths accommodate happy customers. The walls are lined with historical photos outlining the evolution of Bernie’s and its family heritage, while young, friendly staff pump food out to salivating patrons in record time. Bernie’s is a slick operation indeed, but a fun, casual dining atmosphere prevails. It’s long way from Bernie Junior’s five-star hospitality career in London and Sydney, but judging by the relaxed grin with which he greets his customers at Bernie’s Diner, that’s no accident.
Bernie's Diner is located at 402 Argyle St, Moss Vale, NSW.