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At The Gardenia – Now Closed – Effie Koutoupi Knew Everyone’s Name

Since 1949, The Gardenia restaurant in Stathroy, Ontario, Canada has been a beacon for the hungry and since 2000 they've gotten more than good food – the attention of Effie Koutoupi, who took it over that year, now closing it to retire. 

“I’m a very friendly person,” Koutoupi said. “I built up good relationships with my customers.” Unlike many other diners and restaurants, she said it wasn't just COVID-19 that brought the end, that it was just time for her stop, The London Free Press said. 

She plans to spend five or six months a year in her hometown of Gytheio in Mani on the Peloponnese, once air travel resumes. 

She was also the manager, accountant, dishwasher, janitor and even a server – too many 15-hour days. “I don’t like the stress anymore,” she said, adding the Gardenia’s final day on Oct. 25 was “very bittersweet.” 

She said the secret to her success was treating customers like people, not just walking dollar signs. “It’s very hard to say goodbye to them,” she said. On the last day, there was “too much crying,” the paper reported. 

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