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DEMOS (JIMMY) P. GINAKES (published on August 09, 2008)



DEMOS (JIMMY) P. GINAKES Born November 24, 1934, Niata, Greece Died August 4, 2008 Niata, Greece Jimmy The Greek Ginakes, wasn't originally from Winnipeg, but he became a Winnipeg original. He was born and, fatefully, he died in Greece. But he considered Winnipeg his real home, even if it wasn't the place he was supposed to end up when he left for North America at age 14. Jimmy arrived in Winnipeg in 1950. His ultimate destination was the United States, because he had three uncles in Fargo. But one uncle thought it would be easier to emigrate to the United States from Canada. So Jimmy was sent to join his first cousin, Ann Buzunis in Winnipeg. Fargo would end up being no more than a day trip. And Jimmy would go on to become one of the last of the oldtime Winnipeg characters. A character who was characterized by his colourful, Runyonesque style of life and use of language. By his turtle-neck sweaters. And by the heart of gold that beat within his sometimes gruff fa├žade. But his rise to the top to driving big cars, hiring some of the biggest names in show business, and serving a Jimmy G. burger to Prime Minister Jean Chretien began at the very bottom. Shining shoes. Jimmy did that right through his teens at the corner of Portage and Carlton for six years. Then, in 1956 he moved down the avenue and got into the business that would make him into a local legend. Jimmy joined his brother-in-law, Tom Panopoulos, at the Manhattan Restaurant on Portage Avenue, across from The Bay. In 1960, Jimmy acquired a new partner and moved to a new location. Younger brother John Ginakes joined Jimmy at Danny's Quick Lunch, at Main and Euclid. That turned into a really quick lunch. A year later they left Danny's and with Perry Ginakes now aboard, the three brothers opened two Thunderbird drive-in restaurants. Then in 1969, through his friendship with Ben Hatskin, Jimmy acquired title to a building on Kennedy Street that would become the Town Country nightclub. For the next decade, the T C was the Winnipeg destination of some of the biggest names in show business, including a newcomer singer from New York named Barbara Streisand. The three brothers went their own ways after the T C closed, and in 1982 Jimmy acquired a new partner. He and son Peter, opened a Rib Shack restaurant on Pembina Highway. Finally, in 1989, Jimmy resurrected the name of a famous eatery from the 1950s, and opened the new Pony Corral by acquiring the lease of a former Burger King on Pembina. Helped by his son's gift for marketing, the Pony Corral expanded to four restaurants. As much as most of his life was consumed by the restaurant and nightclub business by serving the customers who became his dearest friends in the later years and in the end it was family that made him the happiest. His grandchildren, especially. And especially when his grandchildren were with him at The Pony. As they all were just three days before he left for his last trip back to the place where he was born and would die. Jimmy is survived by his loving wife of more than 50 years, Mary; children, Peter D. Ginakes, Phyllis Ginakes Coates (Doug), Athena Ginakes Karos (Nicholas); grandchildren, Stephen and Zoe Coates; Theadora, Demetra and Alexandra Karos; and by his siblings, Anastasia (John - deceased) Boosalis, John (Gloria) Ginakes, Katharine (Clem) Samouris; Perry (Tulla) Ginakes and by numerous relatives in Canada, the United States and Greece. Prayers were held in Jimmy's home village of Niata, Laconia on August 6, prior to his body being returned to Winnipeg. Pallbearers are Stephen D. Coates, Chris J. Boosalis, Peter J. Boosalis, Lambi J. Ginakes, Peter P. Ginakes, Dino P. Ginakes, Dimos F. Ginakes, John F. Ginakes, Peter C. Samouris, Theodore C. Samouris. The funeral will be held Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2255 Grant Ave. There will be a viewing prior to the funeral from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the church. The interment will be at Brookside Cemetery, where Jimmy's parents, Peter and Phyllis Ginakes, are buried. Special thanks to Mike and Eleni Ginakes who were with Jimmy in Greece at his time of death. In lieu of flowers a donation can be made through St. Demetrios Church to the Greek Cultural Community Centre. Or a donation can be made directly to Jimmy's home village church, St. Taxiaritis Church of Niata, Greece.


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