Whether as first-time patrons or longtime customers, folks eating at The Holiday Restaurant praise the food, the service and the ambiance.

Georgia Kapetanopoulos and her sister, Helen Dafilis, pride themselves on family values and maintaining the same high standards the New Milford restaurant has offered for a half century.

"Nothing has changed in the 50 years since my husband, Styliano, opened the restaurant," Mrs. Kapetanopoulos said. "You still get generous portions, excellent service."

Mr. Kapetanopoulos opened The Holiday in 1961, with his partner, Jim Soteriou.

Starting as a small pizza place, the popular spot in the Big Y shopping center along Route 7 soon expanded to include both a dining room and a banquet room.

The Holiday became the spot to go for local civic club meetings and family celebrations.

The Rotary Club of Greater New Milford holds its weekly lunch meetings at The Holiday.

Club president Sharon Ward said service and accommodations have been so excellent, the club has started holding its semi-annual dinner meetings there also.

"Helen has been wonderful to us," Ms. Ward said, with a laugh. "Dianne (Plugokencky) has been our waitress for so long, she's an honorary Rotary member now."

"It's always been a family business," Mrs. Kapetanopoulos said. "Our mother, Maria Leventogianni, now 84, used to cook in the kitchen. We still use many of her recipes."

When Mr. Soteriou retired in 1999, Mrs. Dafilis sold her restaurant in White River Junction, Vt., and became a partner in The Holiday.

With Mr. Kapetanopoulos' death in 2002, his wife became partners with her sister.

"We value the family trust we have here," Mrs. Kapetanopoulos said.

"Members of our wait staff have been with us for years," Mrs. Dafilis said. "Dianne has been with us for 40 years, Nina for 30 years and Debbie for 25 years," referring to their top waitresses with the same familiarity she holds for her own four children, who worked their way through high school at the restaurant.

The restaurant has seen its share of catastrophes over the years.

In 1984, four feet of water flooded the building. The year 2004 brought a fire. In 2006, another flood damaged the restaurant. And with the area flooding in March, The Holiday sustained heavy damage that kept it closed for two months.

"The whole town has been so supportive over the years," Mrs. Kapetanopoulos said. "They've called with good wishes. Stopped by and left notes on the door.

"After this last flood, Big Y brought us the plants you see around the dinning room," she added.

Each catastrophe has brought renovations. After the March flooding, a new poly-resin flooring, floor-layout plan and booths were added.

The banquet room once again is the site of New Milford Lions Club and Rotary Club gatherings.

"The round tables are conducive to conversation and the space is so large," said Bob Coppola, Lions Club membership and zone chairman, "we don't have to worry about how many members show up."

"It's tradition to go there and The Lions Club is a club of tradition," he added. "For banquet room acoustics and presentation space, it can't be beat."

Chef Michael Mosera became an "adopted" member of The Holiday family when he came 10 years ago from Boston.

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, he has added Mediterranean, Moroccan and Latin specials to the 140-dish menu.

While some pizza recipes have stayed the same, some have been jazzed up -- like the blue cheese and buffalo wing pizza.

"I like to experiment with our regular customers when they ask for something a little different," Mr. Mosera said. "It's like cooking for family here. When it's slow, we come out of the kitchen to talk with the customers."

Clarence and Alice McLean and their two sons stopped in last week on their way back to Charlotte, N.C. The couple had come with their youngest son, James, to New Milford for the graduation from Canterbury School of their son, Clarence Jr.

"We've been here a couple of times over the years for pizza," Mr. McLean said. "We definitely tell everybody, `If you're ever in New Milford, The Holiday is where you have to go.' "

The Holiday Restaurant, located in the Big Y plaza at 1 Kent Road in New Milford, is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 860-354-9393 for more information.

"If you're ever in New Milford, The Holiday is where you have to go."

Clarence McLean

Patron of the Holiday Restaurant