Kiriakos P. Tzouras, the co-owner of the Golden Steer Steakhouse and a 14-year Forest Parker, died on July 19, 2011 at the age of 55. His death was cancer-related, according to his nephew, Tom Tzouras.
Known affectionately as “Big Charlie” to many of the friends he made over the last 14 years as a partner of the Golden Steer, 7635 Roosevelt Rd., Tzouras co-owned the restaurant with his cousin, who shares the same first name – both of them named after their grandfather. Patrons and friends called Tzouras’ cousin, Kiriakos A., “Little Charlie,” because Tzouras was close to 6 feet tall and Kiriakos A. is shorter.
Big Charlie was born on Oct. 12, 1955 and immigrated to the United States from Greece in 1979, according to Tom Tzouras. Before he and Kiriakos A. (Tom’s father) purchased the restaurant in 1997, Tzouras was a chef at a number of other Chicago-area restaurants, his nephew pointed out.
Tzouras was an adventurous traveler and made regular trips back to Greece but also visited Mexico and Costa Rica with friends he made from the restaurant.
“He and I probably went to Mexico at least a half dozen times,” said Barry Schaffner, who became a close friend after meeting Tzouras through the restaurant. “You don’t really know who your friends are until you travel with them. He was always very good and very easy to travel with.
“I’m gonna miss the hell out of him,” Schaffner added.
Although Tzouras never married and had no children, his nephew said he was still very family-oriented.
“My brother and I were like his kids. On weekends we’d go to his house and BBQ or they’d come to our house,” Tom Tzouras said.
He described his uncle as very friendly. He could be quiet at times but when Tzouras got to know someone he was “very talkative.”
“He was the type of guy who got to know you on your first visit,” said Mayor Anthony Calderone, who also developed a friendship with Tzouras. Calderone said he was saddened by the news but added, “I’m happy that he’s in a better place.”
“He’ll be missed, by everybody I know,” Schaffner said.
Services were held last weekend, with interment at St. Nikolas Cemetery in Achladokambos, Greece.