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Bedford Street Diner Where everybody knows your name
By Camilla A. Herrera
Staff Writer
September 12, 2007 12:00 AM


Take a look at the menu of the Bedford Street Diner in Stamford.

You'll find eggs, bagels, French toast, pancakes, sandwiches, wedges, burgers, french fries, coleslaw, coffees, teas and milkshakes - the bread-and-butter of diner dining.

"You have to try the cheesecake," says Darcey Trudeau, the 5-month-old eatery's co-owner with Nancy Ackerson, who comes out from the kitchen, where she is often found baking and preparing specials, to join her sister in a booth.

"The cheesecake is our grandmother's recipe," says Ackerson. "It's a family secret."

What won't remain a secret much longer are the menu's healthier offerings. These include nut breads, fresh fruit, salads, veggie and turkey burgers, grilled chicken and vegetable wraps.

"You want egg whites?" says Ackerson. "Just ask."

She singles out the Healthy Morning Wrap, scrambled egg whites, avocado, grilled chicken, mushrooms, sliced tomatoes and salsa.

"You can always get dressings and salsas on the side," says Trudeau.

Craving something more gourmet?

Check out the assorted dinner pastas, the New York Strip, the Pesto-Crusted Salmon with Saffron Rice and Vegetables and Dave's Fave Salad, which includes grilled chicken, walnuts, apples, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese on a bed of mixed greens.

The salad is named after David Agostino, their brother, who is still working the floor one recent afternoon while the remaining lunch crowd is about to clear.

"Don't forget to tell her about our healthy options," he says, passing by.

"I already did," says Ackerson to her brother. "We name a lot of our items after friends and family."

Dottie Agostino, their mother, must have a thing for avocado and portobello mushrooms with ranch dressing. That wrap is named after her.

There also is Billy's BBQ Wrap, Laura's Thanksgiving, Carlos' Chicken Port, Nanny's Napoleon, Karen's Veggie Wrap, Chris T's Wrap, Nanny's Veggie Burger Wrap and Chuck's Crispy Wrap.

This week's specials include Freddy's Spanish Omelet, Tiger Schulman's Tuna Melt and Nanny's Homemade Spinach Pie.

They named Zack Zesty Buffalo Chicken Wrap after Trudeau's toddler son, Zachary. His playgroup friends have their names attached to menu items as well. Next will probably be her daughter, Chloe, 4 months, and her niece, Caitlin Agostino, 6 months.

"Zander has one, too," says Ackerson, about her cat.

Trudeau giggles, teasing Ackerson in a loving tone that underlies much of the quick-fire banter the sisters exchange.

It reveals something about the kind of comfortable familiarity they hope to bring to the Bedford Street Diner.

"We recruited people we have worked with," says Ackerson.

"They took a risk when they came here and we are so grateful," says Trudeau.

You're with family, they seem to be saying.

Their family.

"From the kind of family we come from," explains Ackerson. "From always being in a restaurant, we know how we were treated, so we want to treat people right."

"Thank you goes a long way."

So it is, as if sharing with a friend, that they reveal how they never expected to be working at a diner, much less be running one, even after growing up and later working in and around area diners.

Their parents even met at a diner, says Trudeau, the former Buttery in Stamford.

"Daddy was a cook," says Ackerson, about Joe Agostino.

"Mom was a waitress," says Trudeau.

It seems inevitable, and the sisters nod in agreement, that the family's diner culture would qualify them to keep it, well, in the family.

To make it happen, Trudeau gave up a job in public relations and Ackerson quit three concurrent waitressing jobs to build and manage the diner.

"Dad said, 'I found this place,' says Trudeau.

"I think he's always wanted this kind of place," says Ackerson.

"The kind of place we would own so they could be involved as much as they want to be," says Trudeau.

The original deal and two others at other sites fell through but they didn't stop looking. Last November, the family landed the Bedford Street site and after four months of heavy construction, the Bedford Street Diner opened.

"It was a crazy day," says Ackerson, laughing at the memory of their opening day, when David Agostino, a former writer with no restaurant experience, joined the family business.

The sisters wouldn't be able to do it without their parents.

"Dad comes in at 3:30 a.m. to open and clean and set up," explains Ackerson.

"Mom helps with the kids and closes," says Trudeau, momentarily serious.

"I fired mom a month ago," she jokes, as a way of expressing concern that her mother does more than she should. "She's still here."

Ackerson says their father jokes about the toil of working early in the morning. "'These are supposed to be our golden years,' he says to mom, 'And here I am washing dishes.'

"We keep doing this and he'll be here for years," she adds with a smile.

"Sitting at that counter," says Trudeau.

"He works and then his friends come in to have breakfast," says Ackerson.

"It's always been this way," says Trudeau. "We make fun of each other all the time."

They wouldn't have it any other way.

"In a year? I hope we're still here," says Trudeau. "I love seeing the same faces."

*

The Bedford Street Diner, 935 Bedford St., Stamford. Open Monday-Wednesday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Take-out menu available. Call 406-9985 or visit www.bedfordstreetdiner.com.

 


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