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For his sister, though, it’s not so much about the food.
“Even though we’re in the computer age, with the internet, I think people still like to look at each other in the face and talk to each other,” Niki said. “I think there’s a need for that to go on.”
Niki’s plans include hip-replacement surgery after years on her feet at the diner.
“I know what caused it: wear and tear,” Niki said. “Standing 13 hours a day.”
She said she’ll miss “the people, the colourful people we get. Even with COVID-19. We go through it together. We talk about it. Or when my father passed away, I had people supporting me, telling me their stories. We’re not alone.”
(A third sibling, John Koulakis, killed his father in a tragedy that made headlines in 2013. He ended up pleading guilty to manslaughter.)
New owner Minicucci understands there’s something unique about the social scene at Cosmos, which is why he doesn’t have any plans to tamper with the magic formula.
“The food’s amazing but people definitely come for that Cosmos atmosphere,” Minicucci said.
Even with the restaurant milieu reeling from the pandemic, he says he’s optimistic.
“They’ve been doing it since the ’60s and they weren’t doing this to lose money every year. There’s money to be made,” Minicucci said, though he admitted that’s based more on trust than on poring over the numbers.
“They don’t have a ton of paperwork,” he said. “A lot of it was based on good will and just knowing the establishment myself. They had to trust that I wasn’t going to do anything crazy with it and respect what they built. And at the same time that I could trust that what they’re telling me is what it is. It’s really based on faith.”