TAMPA, FL – Evripides (Evris) Kontos, the entrepreneur who founded the iconic brand and Mediterranean food preparation and distribution company Kontos Foods, died May 20 at the age of 90 in Florida, due mainly to heart disease.
Kontos’ remains will be transported to New Jersey in order for his funeral and burial to take place there.
He was born and lived in poverty during his childhood in Cyprus and unto his dying breath he longed to see the liberation of the city of Kyrenia. A great patriot to the end, Kontos offered financial and moral support for the struggle for justice for Cyprus.
During High School he worked in a pastry shop, and in his third year he left school to start his own business, persuading his uncles to help with some small property they had to secure some money and start producing fillo. An elderly Cypriot from Egypt taught him the best way to quickly prepare sheets of fillo, and Kontos’ products were of exceptional quality that made them known throughout Cyprus. After selling his stake, he left for New York in 1949. He borrowed money to pay for his ticket and to have a bit left over.
He found work at bakeries and his knowledge of fillo impressed many. In 1968, the daring and hardworking Evripides Kontos started a small shop in Dumont, NJ to make fillo, which eventually became the well-known company Apollo Fillo.
But he was obsessed with creating machines to mass produce good quality products. He succeeded with the help of an engineer in 1972 and those machines began to be sold all over the world. In 1982, Euripides Kontos sold Apollo Fillo and founded today's Kontos Foods.
Kontos was a grand benefactor of the Church, the Community, and the Cyprus cause. He was one of the founding members of the Pancyprian Association, and previously served as president of the Cyprus Lampousa Association of America. He was also a member of the Cyprus Children's Fund and, together with his wife, undertook the financial support of many children in Cyprus. He was also been a member of the Cyprus Federation of America. He was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and was honored with the Ellis Island Award.
His advice to young people is that they must be honest and hardworking. "They should not be afraid of work, even washing dishes," and he once told The National Herald that in his life, he dared and took risks to succeed. "Courage is a great achievement," he said. "I advise young people to believe in themselves.”
Kontos and his beloved wife Evangelia have two sons, Steve and Dino, and a daughter Kathy, and numerous grandchildren. Kontos was thrilled his children are in the company’s leadership.