Restaurateur remembered for community service, sense of humour
At 26, Peter Georgoudis moved to Canada from Greece with no English and about $10 to his name.
He worked as labourer, then opened a doughnut store in Montreal with his brothers. As the men started their families, they decided to move to New Brunswick and start up Vito's restaurants in 1970.
More than 50 years later, Vito's is still a staple in the Saint John community. That community is now mourning Georgoudis, who died Friday at 89.
Social media condolences poured in for the patriarch, who, alongside his brother Nick, started the hockey teams Saint John Flames and Saint John Vito's and won national titles.
George Georgoudis, who now runs Vito's with other members of the family, said Peter was his uncle, but he considered him more like a father.
"He loved to laugh. He had a really great sense of humour. He had a nickname for everybody," said George Georgoudis, who's also known as Big George.
"He was an extremely hard worker. He'd be the guy who raises his sleeves and put the apron on and and not even think about what had to be done. He just enjoyed the work."
The four brothers — Costa, Peter, Nick and Demetri — all moved to New Brunswick within a year of each other.
Costa started Vito's in Moncton, and Nick and Peter took on the Saint John business.
Demetris died in a tragic crash in the early 1970s. In the spring of 2022, Costa died at 90.
Nick Georgoudis is the last remaining brother of that generation. He said he will miss his brother and business partner dearly.
"He was my partner for 53 years, you know. So besides being the brother, he was a friend. He was everything," Nick Georgoudis said. "Everything we did, we did together here. You know, sometimes maybe I was the outspoken one, but in the business, everything we did, all the decisions, we were making it together."
Friendship, kindness 'and everything else'
Nick said after retirement, he and Peter continued to go to the uptown Vito's for a coffee and to stay connected to the community.
"That's a part I'm going to miss a lot," he said. "His friendship, his kindness and everything else."
Peter Georgoudis was the recipient of two Governor General awards, the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Peter and Nick won both the Allan Cup in 1992 as owners of the Saint John Vito's, and then the Calder Cup in 2001 as the owners of the Saint John Flames. Peter and Nick are the only owners to have both these rings.
Peter was also recognized in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame as a builder of the hockey community.
George Georgoudis said the biggest lesson he's learned from Peter is that family always comes first.
"He would do anything for his family," he said.
He and his cousins are working hard to maintain the Vito's business and their fathers' legacy, he said.
"We know where they come from. We know they didn't have much. We know what they built and we don't want to screw it up," George said. "We're taking that legacy, taking that torch and and hopefully ... they can be proud of us as we move forward."