Share This Page

New restaurant dines on heritage

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
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. Ruediger | Leader Times

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.