The coronavirus has taken the life of a longtime New York City restaurateur, known to many for his warm, welcoming and cheerful spirit and infectious personality.
Andy Koutsoudakis, 59, the owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen on Church Street, in Tribeca, died on Friday, according to a statement from his family on his Facebook page.
Koutsoudakis’s death is personal to many of his regulars, who say the owner made them feel like family. “He treated me like I was his Uncle Dave. He used to buy me breakfast every weekend,” said David Harris, 80, who has been a Tribeca’s Kitchen customer from the day it opened.
“He was a dear friend to the entire neighborhood and his restaurants were like coming home,” said Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth and another regular. “Andy was family to me and to all of us.”
Tribeca’s Kitchen has been a favorite of city officials, including Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who tweeted: “Really heartbroken to hear about this terrible virus taking the life of Andy Koutsoudakis…He was a kind, warm, cheerful New Yorker. He was always at the front door welcoming customers.”
Koutsoudakis came to the U.S. from his native Crete at age 14. His parents brought him, then returned home, leaving their son under the supervision of an uncle. “From 14 years old, my dad was on his own and didn’t speak a word of English and didn’t have any money, didn’t have anything,” said his son Andreas. “He quickly jumped into the diner world, full of energy. The same guy you know.”
In 1982, Koutsoudakis returned to Greece to marry his wife Vanna, the girl next door he grew up with, and brought her back to New York.
“Andy epitomized the American Dream,” said Amy Sewell, who with her husband Charlie Sewell were dinner regulars every Monday evening at Tribeca’s Kitchen. “He was living it, always.”
Even as he lay in the hospital, Koutsoudakis’s generous spirit was present. “We brought the whole staff lunch and dinner every day,” Andreas said in an interview with the Tribeca Tribune. “That’s what my dad would’ve wanted.”
Besides his wife and son, Koutsoudakis is survived by his daughter-in-law Alexia, two granddaughters, Vanna and Zoe, three sisters, four brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-laws and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, the Koutsoudakis family asks that donations be made to a GoFundMe they have established to support the purchase of protective gowns and masks for the staff at Richmond County Medical Center in Staten Island as well as other hospitals.
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