Early Valentine’s Gift for Mr. and Mrs. Spanoudakis

Edith and Evangelos Spanoudakis with their food cart in the background in Midtown Manhattan. Photo by Costas Bej

NEW YORK – Evangelos and Edith Spanoudakis run a coffee cart in Manhattan and on February 9, their day began as usual but their dinner at the historic Old Homestead Steakhouse was an early Valentine’s gift, the New York Post reported. The couple had been featured in the Post on February 3 for their love story and their long hours working together in the tiny coffee cart for 25 years.

They had “a glamorous dinner in a booth once shared by Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio,” the Post reported, adding that Mrs. Spanoudakis “was greeted by co-owner Marc Sherry with a bouquet of roses outside the century-old Meatpacking joint.”

“We felt like celebrities,” the 64-year-old Edith said, the Post reported, “It was the fanciest date we’ve ever been on!”

As the Post reported, they “were showered with goodies during their romantic lunch, including porterhouse and rib eye steaks, oysters, jumbo shrimp and a bottle of champagne. For dessert, they dug into chocolate cake, cheesecake and a box of chocolates.”

Mr. Spanoudakis, 66, spoke with The National Herald about his story. The couple’s 3-by-5 breakfast cart is located on 48th Street and Broadway and their day begins at 11:30 PM with a drive from their Holbrook, Long Island home to Long Island City, Queens for picking up their supplies and food cart by 2 AM. By 5 AM they are serving coffee and bagels in Midtown for six hours inside the cart’s small space.

Of their relationship, Edith said, “One day I want to kill him, the next day he wants to kill me, but at the end of the day we always say, ‘I love you.’ That love is what keeps us from going mad,” the Post reported.

Spanoudakis sets up the display of five dozen pastries and makes two gallons of coffee while his wife naps in their van. Married for 41 years, they have developed a system for working together that runs like clockwork. Spanoudakis prepares the coffee for each customer, while his wife dispenses the morning pastries and gives the change.

The couple met in Brownsville, Texas where 21-year-old Mexican-American Edith was a resident and where the Piraeus-native, Spanoudakis, at age 23, was “an engine technician aboard a container ship docked at the port there,” the Post reported.

A week after they met outside a JCPenney store, Evangelos had to return to his ship and they wrote letters to each other for several months.

He told his fellow sailors, “That one’s mine,” before he asked her out, the Post reported.

They married in May 1976 and then moved to Astoria, Queens, in 1977. Spanoudakis worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The couple’s only son, Dimitrios, was born in 1983.

He told TNH that his son lives in Stony Brook where he is a contractor married to Stephanie and they have two sons, Alexander and Sebastian.

The Navy decommissioned the yard in 1987 and Spanoudakis made a career change. “A Greek friend of mine said, ‘Why don’t you try the food-cart business?’ It was the best decision I ever made, especially because it meant I got to keep the business in the family,” the Post reported.

The first food cart was purchased in 1987 for $2,700 and was at Fifth Avenue and 60th Street. In 1993, Edith joined her husband in the food cart business.

As the Post reported, “They sometimes bicker over little things, like how much butter to put on a roll (he says more, she says less) and how to arrange the pastries (she likes the same array every day, he likes to change it up).”

“I’m a Scorpio and he’s an Aquarius,” said Edith, as the Post reported, adding that “even the stars say we’re nothing alike.”

Patience and respect are the keys to their success in marriage and in the food cart.

“If you think you’re right all the time, you’re doing it wrong,” she said, the Post reported, “Everything is fifty-fifty with us. There’s no ‘me’ or ‘he.’ It’s always ‘we.’ ”