A TOP NOTCH RESTAURANT

A new eatery has taken the place of an old Waynedale institution.

The Top Notch Diner recently opened their doors at 6800 Bluffton Road, the former spot occupied by Azar’s Big Boy.

New owner, Panos Bourounis, said while the appearance – inside and out – may bear a striking resemblance to the old business; he and his staff are working hard to make their new café a unique establishment for hungry customers.

The eatery first opened about two weeks ago, when Bourounis and his staff finally replaced the venerable old Azars sign that has decorated the corner of Bluffton Road and Lower Huntington Road for years.

The new sign is similar in color to the old one, but proclaims, “Top Notch Diner: Eating Experience” with the restaurant’s hours posted below (6 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day).

The interior of the business looks almost precisely as it did when it was still Azar’s Big Boy, with wood-paneled walls, lighting sconces ringing the dining room, and Waynedale-themed photos dotting the walls.

In fact, sugar packets placed on the tables are still emblazoned with “Frisch’s Big Boy” on each package.

One big change, according to Bourounis, is that he decided to remove the restaurant’s old salad bar.

The menu is somewhat similar, as well, with a host of diner favorites filling up the roughly 10-page menu.

The list of dining options includes sections of soups, salads, burgers, wraps, steaks, ribs, soups, and sandwiches. Breakfast selections include omelets, pancakes, waffles, crepes, and skillets. Ethnic sections of the menu include Greek, Asian, and Italian. The diner also offers breakfast specials from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day.

Deserts include everything from pies, sundaes, and ice cream to home-made milkshakes.

Menu prices range anywhere from $2.49 to $13.99.

Bourounis and his son, Gus, are co-owners of the new spot and Gus currently serves as the restaurant’s manager, Bourounis said. Gus said since opening, the spot has hired about 30 new workers, including employees for the kitchen and for their wait staff.

One trouble the family has had, however, is finding enough people to staff their new venture. Bourounis said they were so short-handed when they first opened, they had to close early because they didn’t have enough people in the kitchen to cook the rush of orders.

“The first day, we had a bunch of people come in,” he said, “but we had to let them leave without serving them because we didn’t have enough kitchen help.”

Bourrounis encouraged people looking for work to stop by the restaurant and ask to fill out an application, as they are continuing to look for staffers to fill their ranks. Folks can either come to the restaurant at 6800 Bluffton Road, or give them a call at (260) 478-1700.

Top Notch fills the void left by the closing of Azars about a year ago after nearly 60 years in business at the same spot. In a message posted on

Facebook in June of 2020, owner George Azar wrote that closing the long-time eatery was a difficult decision but necessary in the current economic times, only made more trying because of the ongoing pandemic.

“Our customers were extremely loyal, and we loved being a second home to many,” he wrote, “I have always understood the importance of gathering places to their communities, and knew that for many, the Big Boy was your ‘Cheers.’ “

“My hope,” Azar continued, “is that (our replacement) will be good enough and fortunate enough to earn the support that we were blessed with for all these years.

Michael Morrissey
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Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer