The Bitopoulos family is serving its famous New England boiled dinner for the last time.
After 41 years in business, Brothers Restaurant owners George and Nancy Bitopoulos and Nick and Dee Dee Bitopolous will end their four-decade relationship with Winthrop diners on Wednesday, Jan. 18. The business will continue under new ownership at the same location.
Nancy Bitopoulos, who came to the United States from Greece in 1960 six years after her husband George arrived here (the couple first met at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Lynn), held back tears as she talked about the family-run business and the affection she has for Winthrop residents who became loyal customers.
“We’re not closing, we’re selling the business,” said Bitopoulos. “My husband is getting older (he’s 82) and it’s time to retire. I love Winthrop. I want to thank all the people for being kind to us. They put my kids [Alexandria, Vasilia, and Vasili] through school.”
Bitopoulos said that through the years just about every town luminary – including new Winthrop Council President Peter Gill and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo – dined at their restaurant.
“We’re proud to call Brothers Restaurant a landmark of Winthrop,” she said. “We feel like a Winthrop institution. I know kids that came here, they got married, and now they bring their kids here.”
George Bitopoulos, who was busy cooking bacon, saugages, ham, eggs and home fries at the grill last Wednesday morning, said he’ll miss being at the restaurant each day.
“I am sad to be leaving because I’ve been here 40 years – I’ve spent half my life over here,” said Bitopoulos. “I like the people. I like the business. This is a good town and a good place to work. But there comes a time that you have to get out because I’m getting too old now.”
Bitopoulos said he is proud of the Greek tradition and values that were instilled in him that “if you work hard and take care of the business, you can be successful.”
He’s also proud of the signature dinners that put Brothers Restaurant on the map. “The boiled dinner (corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes) was the most popular – it always goes well,” said Bitopoulos, while also noting the other special dishes: beef stew, chicken pot pie, liver and onions, haddock, scallops, shrimp, roast beef, and broiled chicken.
Charlie Herbert, a regular at Brothers, said it’s the end of a glorious era for Winthrop.
“The best thing I like about the restaurant is Nancy, George, Nick and Dee Dee, and of course the girls – but you can’t beat the meals,” said Herbert. “Their Thursday night boiled dinner, you can’t find any place that has what they have here for a boiled dinner. And once in a while Nancy used to make me mousaka.”
Another regular, Marie Greenlaw, offered her tribute to the Bitopoulos family. “The food is awesome and the workers are great. I remember when they had a coffee counter and we used to sit there and enjoy a coffee. It’s a nice, family-oriented restaurant.”
Johnna Atkins, who has worked as a waitress at Brothers for a dozen years, said she felt like she was a part of a family.
“It’s kind of sad but it’s time for a change, I guess,” said Atkins. “They were great people to work for. Nancy treated me like a daughter. They had great food and cheap prices. It’s like a family here. People come in and you know their name.”