Monday, December 15, 2014

Longtime Charlotte restaurateur gets citizen award from governor

Restaurateur Pete Politis, who says he began as a dishwasher at the Presto Grill before owning and operating Charlotte restaurants for some 60 years, was accepted into The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Dec. 15.

That puts him among a prestigious group of citizens: The recognition is for "outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the State," according to the honor's website. Gov. Pat McCrory presented the award.

Politis immigrated from Greece in 1951. Among his restaurants were the Town and Country drive-in restaurant on Wilkinson Boulevard, The Sandpiper on East Independence Boulevard, The Athens on East Fourth Street, The Plantation Restaurant at Eastway and The Plaza, the original Sandwich Construction Co. on East Independence Boulevard, and the Matthews Family House.

After retiring, Politis began working four days a week, greeting patrons at the Skyland Family Restaurant, which he and Jimmy Kakavitsas opened.

“I came to this country in 1951 with no money, no education and got a job washing dishes at my cousin’s restaurant in Fayetteville. I couldn’t speak English,” Politis is quoted as saying. “When I look back I ask myself, ‘Where else on earth could this happen?’ ”

Other members of the order are Maya Angelou, Dale Earnhardt, Billy Graham, Andy Griffith, Michael Jordan, Earl Scruggs, Dean Smith and Bob Timberlake.