The iconic Greek restaurant Thanasi’s Olympus, which opened in 1981, served its last meal on Saturday evening.

We brought Greek food to Windsor in 1981owner Nick Pontikis told CBC Windsor on Friday. Back then, there was maybe only one or two places that served things like gyros, souvlaki, which is pretty much the burger and hot dog of Greek cuisine.

Mr. Pontikis says the first version of his restaurant had 65 seats when it opened in Gladeview Plaza. It offered a full menu of traditional Greek dishes.

There have been a few location changes, but Thanasi’s has been located on the corner of Tecumseh Road and Pierre Avenue for over three decades.

Today, Mr. Pontikis is ready to move on. He recently announced his retirement.

On Friday, the penultimate day of service at his restaurant, he said everything seemed to him surrealist.

You think of all the lives you’ve touchedhe said, emotion in his voice. It makes me sad, but happy.

I’ve seen people come with their babies, and now those same babies come with their babiessaid Mr. Pontikis. It’s 41 years of love.

And Mr. Pontikis was quick to thank Thanasi’s staff for the success of the restaurant.

They are excellenthe said. I have people who have been with me since 1981. Most of my servers have been with me since 1983.

This is exceptionalsaid Mr. Pontikis. The hardest part will be saying goodbye to my staff.

The portrait of Nick Pontikis in his restaurant.

Nick Pontikis says the impact of the pandemic is unrelated to the decision to close the restaurant.

Photo: Radio-Canada / CBC

Windsor residents were enjoying their last chance to sample Thanasi’s cuisine on Friday.

Among them, Mike Holmes.

This is my first and my last timesaid Mr. Holmes. I’ve always wanted to eat here since I was little.

The restaurant has been very busy all week. I called them about 20 times, they finally called me back, I got a reservation for [vendredi] at noon.

Mr. Holmes enjoyed his experience. It was amazing!

Bill Johns and his wife Mary, meanwhile, have been going to Thanasi’s for years, and the couple made a final visit on Friday.

I always liked itsaid Johns. Superb Greek cuisine. […] It’s a Windsor tradition, and we’re sorry to see her go..

His wife, Mary Johns, added: I love the service. The service is wonderful.

Eddie and Marilyn Renaud have been regulars at Thanasi’s for decades.

This little table by the fountain, it was our favorite tablesays Eddie Renaud. If she was available, we sat there.

The Renauds don’t go out often lately: Mr. Renaud is 85 and sometimes lacks energy. They still wanted to visit Thanasi’s one last time. we had to comehe said. It’s one of our favorite places.

Marilyn Renaud, meanwhile, said she wanted to be able to bring back a souvenir item from Thanasi’s place. The memories, I don’t want to lose themdid she say.

Even if Mr. Pontikis was sad to serve his last customers, he said he was calm. I cooked over 1.8 million chicken kebabs on a barbecuehe said. 41 years working in the kitchen takes a lot out of you.

I could go on for another 40 years, but I don’t want to!

I’m tired, I want to travel. I was born in Athens, Greece. I want to travel there without having to worry about what happens to my 300-seat restaurant.

Thanasi’s has been sold, and the new restaurant, which will serve Indian cuisine, will open shortly.

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