US Cypriot Kyriacos (Charlie) Philippou,was featured in the Forest Park Review (FPR) as an immigrant from Cyprus who worked his way up from dishwasher to restaurant owner.
He came in search in search of the economic opportunity which he was not finding at home in Cyprus.
Phillippou’s journey had more twists and turns. As a teenager, “Charlie” was a budding soccer player in Cyprus until he broke his foot which ended his path to stardom in his own country and perhaps on the international level.
But when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, Charlie decided that his bad luck injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because he was exempt from the draft. The economy in Cyprus suffered because of the war, so he went to Athens looking for work for the short run while in the long run having the goal of someday getting to America.
Turned down for a visa at the U.S. embassy in Athens, he got a job on an ocean tanker, assuming that at some point he’d land in America. Sure enough, at the age of 25 he landed in San Francisco, said “antio sas” to the ship, used $104 of his $200 pay to buy a train ticket and headed east to Chicago where he had relatives with whom he could stay.
Kyriacos working as dishwasher and busboy in Chicago restaurants as he learned English, saved his money and learned the restaurant business from the bottom up, FPR reported, noting that “Philippou opened the Cosmos Restaurant on Roosevelt Road back in 1981 and after that building burned down, he opened Charlie’s at 7427 Roosevelt Road in 1998,”
Philippou’s daughter Maria “covers Charlie’s whole dining room virtually by herself as the only server,” though her father “is there most every day.