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Accident claims 76 Diner founder

After arriving in America with $30 in his pocket, Greece native Alexander Loupessis would go on to build the successful and popular Latham 76 Diner on Loudon Road.

Through hard work and diligence, the diner, founded in 1973, has been a steadfast landmark for thousands of hungry travelers and locals. For 33 years, the 76 Diner has operated for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, only closing once due to an October snowstorm in 1987. Today is the 19th anniversary of the one day the diner closed its doors.

In partial retirement, Alex Loupessis instilled that same work ethic in his two children and made them vow that the Latham landmark stay open, even upon his death.

Tragically, the Loupessis children would have to stick to that promise sooner than they had hoped.

At 1:50 a.m., Friday, Sept. 29, Alex Loupessis, 74, was killed when his Toyota Land Cruiser rolled over while traveling south on the Northway in a rainstorm, said State Police.

According to police, Loupessis' wife, Athena, was driving the vehicle when heavy road spray from a passing tractor-trailer limited visibility.

Unable to see out of the windshield, Athena Loupessis drifted onto the west shoulder of the highway near the Exit 8 overpass. The vehicle climbed a slight embankment and rolled over, ejecting Alex Loupessis, who was in the front seat, out of the vehicle's sunroof. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Athena Loupessis was transported to Saratoga Hospital where she was treated and released for minor head injuries. Alcohol and speed were not factors, said police.

The morning after the accident, the lights over the 76 Diner still welcomed patrons. It was what Alex would have wanted, said Tony Loupessis, president of the diner, and Alex's son.

Anyone who knows him knows that he wouldn't have wanted the restaurant to close ever. He told me that, said Tony. "How do you honor him? The best way to do that is to keep it open."

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