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Valparaiso's long-running Broadway Cafe to close Sunday
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Valparaiso's long-running Broadway Cafe to close Sunday

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Longtime customers have been flocking to Broadway Cafe on U.S. 30 in Valparaiso to buy lemon rice soup by the gallon and freeze it for later use.

After 23 years, the landmark Greek diner at 1805 E. Morthland Drive will soon serve its last country skillet and final stack of fluffy pancakes.

Broadway Cafe owner George Borovilos, 67, said he plans to retire after 50 years in the restaurant business and an illness. The family-style restaurant, known for its neon signs, Blues Brothers statues, comfy booths, home cooking and glass cake display case, will close for good at 6 p.m. Sunday.

"A restaurant's too much work," he said. "It's seven days a week, 24 hours a day with no break. No more."

Borovilos said he didn't look to sell the vintage 240-seat diner because it's on property owned by neighboring Valparaiso University, and the lease expires in 14 months. 

"You couldn't sell it with a lease for just 14 months," he said. "Nobody would buy it."

The community responded with an outpouring of mourning after Broadway Cafe announced its closure on Facebook, with many expressing surprise since "it was always packed." Comments included "what a loss to the community," "you will be missed terribly," and "Broadway has been one of my favorites for 23 years."

Customers asked for recipes, such as for the ranch dressing, the blue cheese dressing and the ever-popular lemon rice soup.

"People call me every five minutes asking why we're closing and say they appreciated coming in," Borovilos said. "They've been coming in to buy the chicken lemon rice soup and freeze it up, but I tell them it's no good that way."

Broadway Cafe had an ice cream parlor and served all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an extensive menu that included crepes, steaks, seafood, Italian cuisine, Asian entrees and "Hoosier-broasted chicken." Best-sellers included Greek pork chops, skillets, the fluffy four-egg omelets and any type of soup, especially lemon rice, cabbage and chicken dumpling.

It was the kind of old-school place where people could find beef liver, fried perch and roasted pork loin, and every dinner came with rolls, dessert and your pick-two choice of salad, soup, cottage cheese or tomato juice.

Customers often would come in over the years to buy the soup by the gallon to serve at family and other social gatherings. 

People came from Valparaiso, Hobart, Kouts and other surrounding towns because they liked the food, but especially the value, said Borovilos, who also ran the defunct Broadway Cafe in Merrillville before selling it years ago.

"The price was right, my friend," Borovilos said. "We had soup, salad, mashed potatoes, dessert, anything you want. We had a lot of regulars."


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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