‘It’s devastating’: Owner of fire-ravaged Kelowna restaurant speaks on loss

Crews continue to battle a fire at Rutland’s Olympia Greek Taverna that broke out overnight on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 7. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Crews continue to battle a fire at Rutland’s Olympia Greek Taverna that broke out overnight on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 7. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

The Rutland community is in mourning as a part of its history went up in flames late Tuesday night, Oct. 6.

The Olympia Greek Taverna was engulfed by a fire, leaving co-owners Mike Koutsantonis and his brother Chris, along with other family members, devastated.

“We’ve been in Kelowna for over 50 years, both in downtown and our second location in Rutland. We’ve been running this Rutland location since 1973 until today,” Mike Koutsantonis told the Capital News on Wednesday morning.

“We’ve had to fight through COVID and now this. It’s devastating.

“We have 30 people that are going to be out of work. Thirty staff members who stuck with us through COVID to make things happen and now, they’re out of a job.”

He said they want to rebuild and continue the family business, but how or when that will be, it’s still too early to tell.

Uptown Rutland Business Association (URBA) executive director Karen Beaubier said she and the rest of the board of directors have extended their heartfelt best wishes to the Koutsantonis family.

“The Olympia Greek Taverna was just such a piece of Rutland history for over 45 years and three generations of family running that business,” she said.

“It’s a terrible, terrible loss for Rutland as a whole.”

Beaubier said it’s still too early to determine what URBA can do for the Koutsantonis family, but she said the business organization will stand behind and support the family as best it can.

“I’m sure local businesses will step up too to help them along their journey of rebuilding,” Beaubier said.

“But just in recovering from this incredible loss, we will be there for them. Whatever assistance they need, we will provide.”

Koutsantonis said he will miss the people who continually supported them.

“I’ll miss the great people of Kelowna who supported us for over 50 years. We made a lot of friendships, and a lot of them have become like family.”

“I’ve seen generations of families growing up. Little kids coming in many years ago and now they’ve got kids of their own and they’re bringing them in.

“I’ll miss that.”

He said he would like to thank the people who have visited and supported them throughout the years.

“When we rebuild and reopen again, we hope that they’ll come back and support us again for another 50 years.”

The restaurant, located on Highway 33, suffered extensive damage after a fire broke out in the rear portion of the building.

“The fire had spread throughout the restaurant and was very difficult to extinguish,” Kelowna fire department platoon Capt. Dennis Miller said in a statement.

Four engines, a command unit, a rescue truck, two ladder trucks and 25 fire personnel were dispatched to the scene.

Miller said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

READ: Kelowna restaurant landmark up in flames


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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