New Red Top owner promises no changes
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/12/2018 (1505 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Red Top Drive-Inn is changing hands but the popular family restaurant — its menu, staff and signature red vinyl décor — will stay exactly the same.
“This is bittersweet,” Vicky Scouras said Friday, explaining how she came to the realization after the tragic death of her son Peter less than two years ago that the family tradition would end.
Red Top co-owner Peter Scouras died while on vacation, caught in a rip tide and drowned in Costa Rica Feb. 20, 2017, a tragedy that left the restaurant’s regulars mourning for months. The place has such loyal customers that some can claim to have sat in the same seat year after year for decades.
Scouras said she realized everyone would need a period of mourning and those months have been a gift. “It gave me a reason to get up in the morning,” Scouras said simply.
So she waited and then quietly searched for the right person to carry on the family tradition.
“We worked here for 55 years or more and with Peter it would have been another 50 years but you know what happens when people plan their lives, somebody is listening,” Scouras said, casting her gaze upward.
Scouras’ late husband John and his two brothers opened the restaurant in 1960, barely out of their teens at the time and new immigrants from Greece who sought a fresh start after the scars left by the Second World War in Europe.
“The Red Top, the place that everyone knows and loves, we want to keep that alive,” Scouras said.
“This is the most positive thing about it. My staff is going to be looked after. My customers are going to be looked after. . . I feel I’ve done the best decision possible,” she said.
The new owner officially takes over Jan. 2.
Stavros Athanasiadis was at the restaurant Friday, wearing a polo shirt with the Red Top logo on the lapel pocket as Scouras and her daughter Elena reviewed half a century of memories.
He’s keeping everything exactly the same including the red wall of fame at the back of the diner on St. Mary’s Road with its photos of famous local celebrities. The most recent photo shows a smiling Justin Trudeau surrounded by Scouras family and staff. It was added last month when St. Boniface Liberal MP Dan Vandal brought his boss to the diner.
“It’s not every day the Prime Minister stops by your restaurant to have lunch,” Scouras said.
With the sale, the diner’s future is assured, the new owner said.
“For me, it was an exciting moment,” Athanasiadis said. “The history this restaurant has, we have to continue that,” he said.
Athanasiadis is a family friend; he played soccer with Dmitris Scouras, Peter’s brother, back in the early 1990s after he immigrated to Winnipeg, also from Greece.
He’s got experience in the notoriously fickle industry, as a co-owner of the popular Santa Lucia Pizza restaurant on Corydon Avenue and he’s also a family man with three sons,including a three month old infant boy.
“This young man fit,” Scouras said. “It wasn’t about the money. I wanted to find someone who believed in the family, who had a demeanour close to my beloved husband and son.”
Her daughter Elena said one of the best parts of the sale is knowing the Scouras family is always welcome at the Red Top. The new owner has asked them to lend a hand and remain part of the community that’s formed around the place.
“That’s an added element of comfort. . . our customers will see us working with him and that everything will stay the same. We feel right about it,” the daughter said.
Updated on Friday, December 21, 2018 8:55 PM CST: Fixes typo in headline
Updated on Saturday, December 22, 2018 7:56 AM CST: Typo fixed.