Binghamton's closed Red Oak restaurant is expected to be crowded again as those who knew the long-time owner get together to remember his legacy.

Michael Kapogiannatos, who operated the First Ward diner for more than three decades, died July 21. He was 76.

Kapogiannatos and his longtime partner, Julianne Ludka, decided to close the Red Oak last October after the business experienced major challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A sign posted at the Red Oak restaurant building on August 4, 2021. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

Ludka said some friends have decided to gather at the Red Oak building on Front Street Saturday afternoon to celebrate Michael's life.

Ludka said she had been taking steps recently to reopen the restaurant. She said she and her daughter had been doing work at the property to get things ready to resume operations in September.

Several of the restaurant's long-time waitresses were willing to return to work.

Those plans have changed. Ludka said with Michael gone, "now I have no interest."

The property, located near Route 17's Front Street exit, remains for sale. Real estate agent Paul Cirba said there's been some interest in the site.

A glimpse inside the closed Red Oak restaurant on August 4, 2021. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: or (607) 772-8400 extension 233.

For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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