Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Goodbye, Tony

(Tony Koulakis at Cosmos, 2008, Photo by Ezra S.)

A few days ago Montrealers were hit with the tragic news that Tony Koulakis, beloved retired chef of Cosmos Snack Bar in Montreal, had been killed. His younger son Johnny, who lived with Tony, was arrested under suspicion of having stabbed his father. 

I'd been a customer of Tony's since grade 11 and was blessed to have him as the main subject of "Man of Grease", a film I made in 2000 and which was released last year on DVD. 

The news of Tony's death hit me and so many others with a massive wallop. We all knew Tony, retired and sick at home with breathing issues, wouldn't last forever, but we never knew he would meet such an unthinkable end. 

So many people who were fans of the film reached out to me over the past few days to offer condolences to me and through me to Tony's family and I wanted use this blog post to acknowledge their/your extremely kind calls and emails. I was greatly helped through the past few days by all the support. 

As one Cosmos customer wrote in a moving letter to the editor today, it's Tony's family who will need the most support in the coming days, weeks and years. Nikos and Niki who ran Cosmos ever since Tony's retirement a few years back, have a big hole to fill in their lives. Their father and mentor is now gone. Their kid brother is in jail, and the future must look pretty daunting. When, and if Cosmos reopens (there has been talk that it may not reopen), please join me in visiting the place and sharing good memories about Tony with Nikos and Niki and their tireless support staff. 

As my wife Alex reminded me, we need to keep the good memories of Tony at the top of our minds to help ease the pain of the tragedy that befell him. 

Tony was known to some as the God of the Potatoes. I think I once read you can't kill a god. Tony will live on in every delicious breakfast I eat. Every time I walk down that block of Sherbrooke Street West where Cosmos is located. Every time someone mentions Man of Grease to me. And every time someone mispronounces my name the way Tony used to.

I'll miss Tony for the rest of my life. It'll be hard to find a star as bright or as memorable as him in any other film I make. The guy was a true legend and a complete classic. 

Just like the famous sandwich he made a million times over, each time with as much love as the last, the man was a Creation. 

As a facebook friend wrote, "Rest In Grease, Tony." 

(Ezra Soiferman)

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