A man becomes a legend

Published 9:11am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A man became a legend on Tuesday morning and with that man went a piece of my childhood.

Constantine “Gus” Koutroulakis was a man I had admired since I was eight years old and unfortunately he passed away Tuesday at the age of 81.

Gus owned and operated Pete’s Famous Hotdogs on Second Avenue in downtown Birmingham and in the opinions of throngs of people including yours truly, he made the best dang hot dog you could ever eat.

He had worked at Pete’s Famous since 1948, the year that he graduated from Phillips High School. He worked with his uncle Pete Koutroulakis, who, upon retiring, sold Pete’s Famous to his nephew.

After taking over the restaurant, Gus kept everything the same and stayed in that spot on Second Avenue, while Birmingham grew up around him.

And it’s that spot that Gus was in for 62 years, all the way through business on Monday.

He was someone that everyone could relate to because if you entered his business then you were not just a customer. You were a friend.

My first trip to Pete’s Famous came when I was eight. I had gone to work with my dad when he worked for the City of Birmingham and he took me there on lunch. It was kind of a tradition in my family with me being the fourth-generation that was able to make the trip to Pete’s.

On my first visit, I ordered a chili-cheese hot dog with hot pepper powder sprinkled on top with chips and a Grapico and from that moment, I was hooked. Whenever I went to work with dad, I wanted to go to Pete’s. It was a must.

For the last 17 years, my order never changed except with the addition of another hot dog and I continued to make the trip down the interstate just to have them.

The trips became rarer, but that downtown spot never left my mind. Gus never left my mind. He is a huge part of my history and should be looked back as important history for Birmingham.

Gus is now a legend. Someone for those of us, who were lucky enough to know him, to talk about with those were did not. A man to talk about to our children and our children’s children although the story will not do him any justice because to really know, you have to have a hot dog. A Pete’s Famous Hot Dog.

I’ll know and I’ll always remember. Thank you Gus. For the hot dogs and the memories.

Chandler Myers is sports editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at sports@atmoreadvance.com

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