LATHAM — Two area diners and a meat market were closed Monday, as friends and family said goodbye to the owner.
Peter Kounoupis, of Latham, died May 15 at age 69. A relative told The Daily Gazette he didn’t know what would become of the Latham Meat Market, the Route 7 Diner in Latham or the Townhouse Restaurant on Schenectady’s Northside, after Kounoupis’ funeral Tuesday morning at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
Both eateries were closed on Monday. A sign on the door of the Schenectady diner said it would be closed Monday and Tuesday due to a death in the family. A sign on the door of the Latham diner said it was closed due to the death of the owner, but it did not specify when it would reopen.
Konstantinos Kounoupis, of Rotterdam, said he and Peter and their late brother Jimmy all were Hellenic Army paratroopers in their youth. One by one, the whole family — the three brothers, sister Katina, their parents, Chris and Anna — left their hometown of Sparta for America in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Konstantinos said all of the siblings worked in the food industry: James and Peter owned the meat market together, then Peter took over the two diners. Katina and her late husband, Constantino, had Katina’s Diner on Curry Road. Konstantinos himself worked many years at other people’s diners, briefly at Latham 76 and then for more than 30 years at Spot Diner in Binghamton.
The work ethic of the post-war generation of Greek immigrants, combined with the demands of being the owner-operator of a diner, put a lot of wear on the body, Konstantinos said. Constantino was 64 when he died, and James was just 61. Peter, the youngest of the siblings, was 69.
“He was worked 24/7, like a slave,” Konstantinos said. “Too many hours, too many businesses.
“From the first time opening the meat market, oh my God.”
Cigarettes also took a toll: James and Peter were both heavy smokers, their brother said, and both developed lung cancer. In Peter’s case, the cancer spread through his body.
Peter got into the diner business to settle debts owed to the meat market, Konstantinos said. Cutting meat was his first trade, not running a restaurant.
“Both brothers were butchers but Peter was the best,” he said. “Jimmy was good, but Peter was better.”
Konstantinos said he remained close to his brothers over the years, but not to their businesses. He didn’t know what would happen to them now.