TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

New restaurant dines on heritage

Ruediger | Leader Times
Gus Couknas and his son Costa hold a bowl of Greek salad at the family's Ford City resturant along Ford Street. The J.L. Costa's Resturant opened in November. Monday January 7, 2013 Louis B.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Mitch Fryer
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

In the 1920s, Gus Couknas' Greek immigrant grandparents, who didn't speak any English, experienced the American dream when they opened up several restaurants in the New Kensington and Oakmont areas.

And there was plenty of Italian food on the table for Couknas growing up. His mother, Mary Ann Badura, of Ford City, is from an Italian family.

Counkas worked, too, as a chef in the deep south of the United States for a time.

His wife Maggie is from Poland.

Couknas has a unique culinary heritage and that is why he opened up a sandwich shop with a mix of Mediterranean and southern foods in Ford City last November.

J.L. Costa's Restaurant along Ford Street is making everyone in and around Ford City appreciate his style of cuisine.

“It all starts from my grandparents on my father's side,” said Couknas. “Obviously being from Greece it's the Mediterranean. My mother's side it's the Italian. They're neighbors and the food is fairly similar. Then I infused that with the southern style and Creole and came up with my own flavor.”

“That's kinda what we do here making things,” he said.

Couknas' father, George, got sick and died last year. It was George's dying wish for his son that made a restaurant owner out of Gus.

“He wanted me to pass on what I had learned from my grandmother,” said Couknas. “He wanted me to open something up on my own like she did.”

To keep the family restaurant tradition going, Couknas named J.L. Costa's after his three young sons, John, Luka and Costa.

The best-selling item on the menu as of now is the sloppy poindexter — shaved sirloin roast served with sauteed mushrooms and onions on thick Italian bread , Other dishes include Greek cheese or spinach pies layered with filo dough, Greek salad or Greek soup.

The restaurant does some catering. In March it will begin serving breakfasts and a Sunday brunch is planned.

“People have been asking for years to do something different like this in town,” said Couknas. “I'm thankful to all of Ford City.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Armstrong

  1. Escaped inmate called armed, dangerous and homicide suspect by police
  2. Worker injured when excavator backs over him in Kittanning
  3. Armstrong reaches out for opinions about how to use closed schools
  4. Kittanning road work a dusty backdrop to sidewalk sales, festival
  5. Explosive second day at Camp Cadet in Manor
  6. South Buffalo airport gets Armstrong County funding for study
  7. Rural Valley judge hanging up robes after 34 years on the bench
  8. Manor family parting with WWII memorabilia at estate sale
  9. Plea withdrawals made harder by Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  10. Ownerless emu finds ‘buddy’ at new Greensburg home
  11. Newest council member aims to make Ford City ‘best it can be’