She was a travel agent with 17 years in the business, exploring the world with a homebase 30 minutes away from Athens, Greece.
He was a cafe owner who set up a shop just outside her apartment building.
Together, they fell in love and moved across the ocean to Sudbury.
It started as a vacation for Fania and Spyros Koutroumanos that ended with a relocation, marriage, the birth of twin boys and a new venture as they took over Sudbury’s downtown classic Gus’s Restaurant.
Fania remembers the trip like it was yesterday.
“It was December of 2013,” she said. “The day we left Athens it was 23 degrees outside. And when we landed in Sudbury it was minus 45 with the windchill. Talk about a shock.”
Fania admits that with the changing of hands in November 2015, came the altering of the menu. Spyros likes his dishes homemade right down to the tangy tzatziki made with thinly sliced cucumbers, olive oil, garlic and fresh yogurt.
The spanakopita offers layers of brushed and baked phyllo pastry. The chicken and pork souvlaki dinners feature lemon roasted potatoes made on-site using locally grown potatoes from Don Poulin in Chelmsford.
Oddly, Fania is in charge of the dessert even though it was Spyros who once owned a cafe serving pastries.
More than baklava, Fania has added new items like karidopita, a walnut cake drizzled in honey syrup and galaktoboureko, golden layers of phyllo with a sweet custard.
Gus’s opened in 1952 to the breakfast crowd and has gone through four management changeovers.
The original Gus Lagges immigrated from Greece and started the restaurant with his nephews. When Lagges passed away in 1984, nephew Peter Moutsatsos took over until his retirement. Moutsatsos tapped his friends Gus and Matina Pontikakos, who carried the torch until their retirement, which paved the way for the Koutroumanos family.
While Fania and Spyros were not on Canadian soil for much of Gus’s history, they feel they have learned so much about the past through the customers. In keeping with tradition, Fania says generations of families sit in the same booth for every visit.
“If these walls had a voice, they could share so many more memories that I have not had the chance to hear already,” she said.
The 70-year anniversary will take place in January 2022.
Fania and Spyros plan to mark the platinum celebration with items from the original menu and its $2 dishes. Fania has it tucked away in a white envelope for safekeeping. Repairs are currently being done to the exterior of the building in preparation.
While a lot has changed in 70 years, the brown vinyl booths remain the same. The vintage decor is still present. And the food remains homemade and is probably the next best thing to a trip to Greece.
They will be welcoming the ever popular breakfast crowd back just as soon as COVID-19 restrictions to in-house dining are lifted.
Moving forward, the duo hopes to expand with an already burgeoning catering service for weddings, businesses and other events.
You can check out the menu for Gus's Restaurant on its Facebook page.Anastasia Rioux is a freelance writer in Sudbury. Let’s Eat is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.