In the Greek coffeehouses lining Eastern Avenue, the men who gather to talk about their shared homeland were grieving yesterday the violent death of one of their own -- Atlantis Carryout owner John Diakomanolis.
Mr. Diakomanolis, 44, was shot in the chest about 2:30 a.m. Friday at his carryout in the 1400 block of Gay St. by a man who stuck his gun through an opening in the bulletproof barrier, police said.
The killer had been in the restaurant and returned to complain that he was given only four slices of pizza when he had paid for five, said Agent Ragina Cooper, a police spokeswoman.
Witnesses told police that after an argument, the customer shot Mr. Diakomanolis and fled.
For years, Mr. Diakomanolis belonged to a close circle of restaurant owners and workers who would meet at an Eastern Avenue kafeneon -- coffeehouse -- at 4 a.m., after hanging up their aprons. They would drink strong coffee in demitasse cups, smoke cigarettes and play cards.
Even before Friday, they had been all too aware of the danger of their late hours, said Minos Diakokomninos, who owns a carryout in Fells Point.
"If someone was like 15 or 20 minutes late, we worry about him FTC and we go looking for him," Mr. Diakokomninos said.
But word spread by telephone from restaurant to restaurant, home to home, about an hour before their regular meeting time Friday. Within a few hours, many of the Greeks in Highlandtown knew of Mr. Diakomanolis' death, said Mr. Diakokomninos, 39. The two grew up together in a village on the Greek island of Karpathos.
Mr. Diakomanolis is survived by his wife of three years, Basilia, and a son who will be 1 next month, said his friend.
"In Greektown, everyone is shocked," said Xeno Kohilas, another Highlandtown restaurateur. "A young man killed over a slice of pizza -- everyone should be shocked. He was kind. He was the kind of guy who didn't want to get in an argument with people.
"He was always giving things away to his customers," Mr. Kohilas said. "He wanted always to contribute to the neighborhood. He wouldn't hurt a fly."