Nikos Koulakis, the former co-owner of revered Montreal greasy spoon and NDG fixture Cosmos, has died. He passed away at home last week from a chronic respiratory illness, per a post shared to the restaurant’s Facebook page yesterday. He was 59.
“NDG sadly lost a pillar of its community this week with the passing of Nikos Koulakis. For anybody who was lucky enough to meet him over the years you know how kind and welcoming he was to everyone. He had a big heart and truly made Cosmo’s what it is today,” the restaurant, now owned by David Minicucci, also posted to Instagram late last week.
Koulakis worked at Cosmos for decades, frying eggs, making hefty mounds of mish-mash omelets, and perfecting the art of the hash brown, up until selling the tiny family diner, which he ran with his sister Niki, in 2020. The pair had taken over ownership of the operation following their father’s tragic death in 2013.
The post shared to the restaurant’s Facebook page originally appeared on the page for Man of Grease, 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 a total riot,” and that, like his dad, he was playful and easygoing, both on and off screen.
“Having worked at Cosmos Snack Bar for nearly his entire teenage and adult life (until he and sister Niki sold the famous NDG greasy-spoon resto in the summer of 2020), the affable Nik would greet everyone with a smile. Most customers weren’t aware but it was actually Nik who invented the legendary Creation Sandwich that is still served up at Cosmos to this very day,” the Soiferman says. The enduring signature dish stacks a fried egg, bacon, salami, cheese, lettuce, and tomato between toast.
Founded in 1967, Cosmos garnered a large and loyal following of diners over the years, many eager to perch on to one of its eight stools to eat at the counter — behind which Koulakis could often be found presiding over the flattop grill.
Koulakis’ funeral service was held at the Archangels Michael and Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church on May 31.
Correction: June 3, 2022, 4:05 p.m. This article was corrected to show that Koulakis passed away at 59, not 61