Nikos Koulakis, the former co-owner of famed Montreal grease spoon and NDG Cosmos fixture, has died. He died at home last week of a chronic respiratory illness, according to a post shared on the restaurant’s Facebook page yesterday. He was 59 years old.
“NDG sadly lost a pillar of its community this week with the passing of Nikos Koulakis. For anyone who has been lucky enough to meet him over the years, you know how kind and welcoming he was to everyone. He had a big heart and really made Cosmo what it is today,” the restaurant, now owned by David Minicucci, also posted on Instagram late last week.
Koulakis worked at Cosmos for decades, frying eggs, making big mounds of hodgepodge omelettes and perfecting the art of the hash brown, until selling the small family restaurant, which he ran with his sister Niki, in 2020. The couple had taken over ownership of the farm following the tragic death of their father in 2013.
The post shared on the restaurant’s Facebook page originally appeared on the page of fat man, a 2000 documentary chronicling the story of Koulakis’ father, Tony, a Greek immigrant and founder of the Sherbrooke Street haunt. In the post, the film’s director, Ezra Soiferman, notes that Koulakis was “often an all-out riot” and that, like his father, he was fun-loving and easy-going, both on and off screen.
“Having worked at the Cosmos Snack Bar for most of his teenage and adult life (until he and his sister Niki sold the famed NDG eatery under a greasy spoon in the summer of 2020), the affable Nik greeted everyone with a smile. Most customers weren’t aware, but it was actually Nik who invented the legendary Creation Sandwich which is still served at Cosmos to this day,” says the Soiferman. The enduring signature dish stacks a fried egg, bacon, salami, cheese, lettuce and tomato between toast.
Founded in 1967, Cosmos has attracted a large and loyal following over the years, many of whom were eager to perch on one of its eight stools to eat at the counter – behind which one could often find Koulakis presiding over the flat grill. .
Koulakis’ funeral was held at the Greek Orthodox Church of Archangels Michael and Gabriel on May 31.
Correction: June 3, 2022, 4:05 p.m. This article has been corrected to show Koulakis died at age 59, not 61