Drew’s Family Restaurant in Forest Hills has new ownership
Andrew Countouris is forever 21.
But his legacy has lived on through Drew’s Family Restaurant on Ardmore Boulevard in Forest Hills. The young man died of a coronary embolism at age 21 in 1982. His three surviving brothers — Louis, Peter and Jerry — renamed the place after their late brother in 1985.
Anyone who dines there can see it’s a true family atmosphere.
Customers, many whom are regular diners, enjoy homemade breakfasts, fresh ground burgers, soups, pizza, Reuben and fish sandwiches as well as huge slices of tasty desserts.
The brothers’ father, Spiro Countouris, opened the place as Dennis Diner in 1948.
Louis Countouris has been the sole owner since 2015. He suffered a stroke in 2016 and hasn’t been able to work. His wife, Anne, has been running it for the past three years. She said the work has taken a toll on the entire family.
The night of the stroke, Louis Countouris was preparing food for the restaurant’s Greek Night. He didn’t feel well. The family called for an ambulance and he was able to walk to it. But the stroke was severe, leaving him unable to speak for months.
Afterward, he and his wife decided to sell Drew’s.
The new owner is Logan Caswell, a chef from North Huntingdon. He took ownership Friday and has been at the restaurant for a few weeks, which has made the transition smooth.
Caswell, a longtime regular customer, said he plans to keep the menu the same. He plans to retain the workers — many have been there for decades — and not change the old photos on the wall featuring the Countouris family. The family has been in the restaurant business for more than 100 years.
“It is bittersweet, because it has been a part of my family forever,” Louis Countouris said. “I have deep respect for what my family has done in the restaurant business.”
Caswell said he already feels like he’s part of this family.
“I hope I can become the step-uncle,” Caswell said. “The kitchen staff is like a machine. I just love the atmosphere here.”
Louis and Anne Countouris of Churchill feel they are making the right move with Caswell.
“It wasn’t just about selling it,” Anne Countouris said. “It was about selling it to the right person. So many members of the community come here. We don’t just make turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. We give them a place to share a family meal, create a memory. We have workers here for 20 and 30 years. We care about what happens to them.”
Debbie Kovacs, of Trafford, has worked there for 26 years.
“I love my guests. I love the owners. I love the food,” she said. “This is the best place I have ever worked. It feels like home here, because I know a lot of the customers, and I feel like I am a part of the restaurant.”
Denise Simpson of Forest Hills has worked there 19 years.
“I am proud to serve the food here,” Simpson said. “It’s all home-cooked.”
Longtime customer Bob Mermelstein said he will miss seeing Louis Countouris walking by to see if diners are OK.
“I will miss talking with him,” said Mermelstein, who dines there several times a week with his wife Merle. “He makes you feel welcome. This is a fabulous family restaurant. They put their heart into it.”
There will still be a Countouris connection. Louis and Anne’s son Benito will continue to work on weekends. He attends Community College of Allegheny County for music technology.
Benito Countouris has done everything from cooking and washing dishes to waiting tables and hosting. He remembered seeing his grandfather sitting at the end of the counter having sunny-side-up eggs and bacon when he would stop by for a quick bite before school.
“It’s those little things you remember,” said Benito Countouris. “It’s important for my parents to move on, but it’s hard.”
They won’t completely stay away.
“We will end up being customers,” Anne Countouris said. “We heard the food is good and the service is impeccable.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .