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Tarpon Springs' 'Lukie' Pappas dies at 85

HOLIDAY — It was Lucas Louis "Lukie" Pappas' cooking that sustained his father's legacy at the famed Riverside Cafe on the Sponges Docks in Tarpon Springs.

Mr. Pappas was one of three sons of Louis Pappas, who invented the Greek salad as we know it with the scoop of potato salad underneath the lettuce.

"My father taught him to cook," said Bertha Houllis, 89, Pappas' oldest sister "He was the only one who really did the cooking and brought it up to par. He was the one who knew all about the kitchen the way my daddy did it. Daddy taught him all the tricks."

Lucas Pappas, 85, died Friday morning at home, surrounded by family, after a long battle with cancer.

"He was an excellent cook," said Nina Gray, 74, Pappas' youngest sibling. "After my father, he was the cook at the restaurant. Out of the three brothers, Mike, Lukie and Jack, he was the one that kept the cooking going."

In 1975, Mr. Pappas and his brothers moved Louis Pappas' 50-year-old restaurant to a nearby location on the Tarpon Springs waterfront, where the Riverside Restaurant at the Sponge Docks became a national focal point for tourists. The restaurant closed in 2005.

The building was sold and it opened as a restaurant earlier this year.

Mr. Pappas graduated in 1943 from Tarpon Springs High School, where he played football. But instead of going to college, he went off to the U.S. Army until 1945. Pappas was a general's aide during World War II.

After the war, Mr. Pappas returned to Tarpon, where he worked at the restaurant perfecting his father's recipes. Mr. Pappas and his brothers also became successful real estate investors.

His son, Louis L. Pappas, 55, said Mr. Pappas was a key figure in the extended Pappas family.

"Other than being just a good father, he kept unity in the family," Louis L. Pappas said. "With all our extensive family, he was the one always in the middle of it. We called him the peacekeeper."

Grandson Lucas Louis Pappas, 28, said Mr. Pappas was "probably one of the most caring individuals that I've ever come in contact with."

"He had an innate ability to make people feel special," he said. "He could walk in a room and his smile would light the room up."

Lucas Pappas' wife of 64 years, Evee died in May; brother Michael Louis Pappas died 2009.

In addition to his son, Louis L., Mr. Pappas is survived by three daughters, Cynthia Mangos, Florinda Williams and Olympia Pagano and Pappas; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; a brother, Jack Pappas; and the two sisters, Bertha Houllis and Nina Gray.

A wake will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox cathedral in Tarpon Springs. The funeral will be there at 11 a.m. Monday.

Contact Demorris A. Lee at or (727) 445-4174.

Tarpon Springs' 'Lukie' Pappas dies at 85 12/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 7:58pm]
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