Gus & Gus opened on the Boardwalk in Rehoboth in 1956, and for the first time in its history owner Gus Svolis will not be manning the grill on the weekend of Memorial Day.
“It’s his first summer off in a long time, but it’s not for a good reason,” said George Svolis, Gus’ son, a week before the season officially kicks off.
Gus, who turns 89 in August, suffered a stroke June 29 last summer. Like the five decades before, he was working in the kitchen of the Rehoboth eatery when it happened. Stacey Giatas, Gus’ daughter, was standing behind Gus and caught him before he hit the ground.
He was doing what he loved most, said Giatas, shortly after the stroke.
In between customer orders on a beautiful Friday afternoon, George said Gus is still paralyzed on the right side of his body, and it’s tough to tell how much he is understanding. He can’t talk, he said.
“We show him pictures of the store, but he just seems to stare right through it,” said George. “He doesn’t recognize too much.”
Gus & Gus was destroyed during the Storm of ‘62, but George said even that year, Gus was able to help get the restaurant up and running again shortly afterward.
Earlier in the day, Gus’ other son and George’s younger brother, Billy, was dealing with getting a malfunctioning grill fixed. Taking a second from the problem, Billy thought for a second and said, “Yeah, I guess we are coming up on the one-year anniversary.”
Billy said when Gus & Gus opened there were only two restaurants on Wilmington Avenue. Now, he said, turning his head, there might be 30.
Billy said his father was a man full of energy, and he said he can tell Gus doesn’t like being stuck. He’s got this get-me-out-of-here look, he said.
In a post April 30, the Gus & Gus Facebook page described Gus as a fighter and a survivor. Billy said he’s the one who posted the message, writing, Against overwhelming odds, my father fought back; even doctors underestimated his fighting Greek spirit. He fought off the stroke, then he overcame pneumonia, only thing next is aspiration. He's finally out of the hospital, and now residing at Harrison Health in Georgetown. We thank you for all your prayers and support!!
As summer nears, George said he isn’t sure if Gus is getting the itch to be back in the kitchen.
“If he sees a sunny day, I hope he remembers,” said George.