22 Aug 2014
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From the High Seas to the Flower Shop

After traveling the world as a seaman on Greek shipping vessels, Pat Dimatos of Ace Florist settled in the flower business in New York.

From the High Seas to the Flower Shop From the High Seas to the Flower Shop From the High Seas to the Flower Shop

As a young man, Romanian-born Pat Dimatos criss-crossed the oceans of the world working for a Greek shipping line. Ultimately settling down in New York and learning the flower business, the owner of has enjoyed a career creating custom floral arrangements.

Pat Dimatos’ early life was anything but stable. Born in Romania in 1932 into a family of Greek descent, he lived through German occupation of the country, followed by Soviet control in the 1940’s, during which time his family was not allowed to leave.

When the borders opened in 1949, they were among the first ones out. “We went to Greece, where my grandparents were from,” he recalled. “We stayed in a refugee camp for about a year and a half.”

Through a family connection at Aristotle Onassis’ Olympic shipping line, Dimatos landed a job as a seaman on a supertanker. This led to an extended stint transporting a variety of materials around the world on company’s fleet of freighters.

Whether carrying oil from Saudi Arabia to Holland, ore from Mozambique to Germany, or lumber from Oregon to South America, Dimatos was always on the go. But then he began to re-think his life at sea.

“I had wanted to become a captain on the ships, that was my intention,” he said. “But after seven years at sea, that was enough.”

“We were never in port... always running around like idiots,” he continued. “We might have six hours in Rotterdam, five hours in Saudi Arabia, and then back to Europe. Sixteen days at sea.”

“It was a great experience for a young kid,” he recalled fondly. “I had a lot of fun and saw the world... but it became too much.”

With the assistance of relatives living in New York, Dimatos was able to immigrate to the United States, and a family member gave him a job at his Manhattan flower shop.

He worked there into the 1960’s, when he and a co-worker bought their own shop in upper Manhattan. Several years later he married and moved to Syosset, setting up shop first in the Plainview Shopping Center, then in Morton Village, where he remained until 1998, when he moved to his current location at 45 Cold Spring Road.

At 78 years old, Dimatos remains active. “I have four children with my first wife - the oldest is 44, and I have grandchildren,” he said.

“And now I have a new family - three more kids,” he added with a grin and a breath. “I’m getting ready for a ‘sweet 16’ party... and the youngest are fourteen-year-old twins.”

Dimatos admits that business is increasingly difficult with supermarkets now carrying flowers and the development of internet ordering. But he stresses his custom designs and personal service, as well as the superior quality of his flowers, as selling points.

“When people like to work with you, the presentation, the arrangements you do for them,they will come back," he said. 

He’s also expanding his offerings to include items such as wreaths with chocolate and mints for the holidays, as well as candy baskets, and is always testing new ideas.

“I’m going to hang on and see what happens,” he concluded. “What can I do at this age...become a mechanic?”  

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