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Kristopher's Place Family Diner offers the comforts of home

| Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 8:02 p.m.

Nasir Shaheed enjoys bacon with his breakfast at Kristopher's Diner in Greenfield. Nasir of West Mifflin was having breakfast with his aunt, Yasmin Shaheed.

George Tarasovic and Richard Cosentino sat at the counter at Kristopher's Place Family Diner on a recent Wednesday morning.

They chatted about the news of the day while drinking coffee just like they do several times a week. Having a place to socialize, have a good meal and just relax is what draws them to this long-time Greenfield establishment.

"This is a fun, neighborhood kind of place," says Tarasovic, who lives in Baldwin but used to live in Greenfield. "That's why I come back here. The food is good. The service is good. And the owner treats you like a friend of his."

Both guys agree they feel more comfortable in a place like this than a chain restaurant, because you can talk to the person next to you, and, when you walk in the door, the workers know you by name.

"I could go somewhere else," says Cosentino of Squirrel Hill. "But then, I wouldn't see George and who would I talk to• We talk about sports, and hash out the world's problems. Then, we go home."

For many, like the two retirees, Kristopher's is welcoming like when family enters a home. The feeling is exactly how owner Mark Chaouk wants the place to feel. He purchased it in 1993 and has worked tirelessly to make diners feel at ease.

The Lebanon native who lives in Kennedy Township tries to buy local and help local businesses.

"I know 90 percent of the customers by name," Chaouk says. "People come in here from generation to generation, so I know whole families. Greenfield is such a wonderful neighborhood. And this is a family-oriented place. We don't serve alcohol, because I want children and families and everyone who comes through that door to feel comfortable in here."

His staff embodies that same message. Many have worked for him for years, including Karrie Mszyco of Greenfield, who has been there for 15 years.

"There are so many customers who come in who we know, so when I see them, I put the food on the grill for them before they even sit down," says Mszyco, who was a regular customer before she became an employee, often stopping for the corned beef sandwich ($6.59).

You won't get fancy at Kristopher's, which is named after Chaouk's son who is 21 years old. It's a basic kind of place complete with a counter, booths and tables. You can dine in or order takeout for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and play the lottery.

Known for its array of breakfast choices -- served all day -- Kristopher's fixes everything from its famous Greenfield Special Scrambler of eggs mixed with your choice of vegetables, cheese, home fries and toast for $7.99 to a Western Omelet which is packed with ham, green peppers, onions and American cheese for $7.25. Another option is four pancakes filled with sliced banana and topped with strawberries and whipped cream for $7.25. There also are breakfast sandwiches, French toast options and even a low-carb choice.

Daily specials are available. Sandwiches include everything from burgers ($3.25 and up) to hoagies (starting at $4.49 for a half) to wraps ($4.99 and up).

They offer plenty of vegetarian choices. Salads are available for $4.75 to $8.99.

"We try to accommodate everybody," Chaouk says. "If someone asks for something special and we can do it, we do it."

Chaouk is the first to chip in and help. He has done everything from cooking to cleaning to working the register.

"This is a neighborhood kind of place," Chaouk says. "It has been here for 70 years. Nothing is processed here. Everything is made to order. When you own a business, you have to have lots of patience. And you have to be willing to work hard and have good people working for you who you can trust. This is my second family here."

Kristopher's Place Family Diner, 4239 Murray Ave., on the Greenfield-Squirrel Hill border. Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (grill closes at 6 p.m.) Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-521-1113

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