PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A restaurant that has long been a staple of the Pensacola community has shut its doors for good.
Skopelos, which has had three different locations during its decades-long run, announced its closure this week after 62 years, a many feat restauranteurs can only dream about.
Skopelos owner and chef Gus Silivos said Wednesday damage from Hurricane Sally to Skopelos at New World Landing in downtown Pensacola was the primary reason for its closure.
“Unfortunately because of the damage that was sustained, the deductible and to renovate — without having any business — made it a choice to say, ‘I don’t think that’s going to work,’” Silivos said.
As a family-owned business, Silivos started working at the original Skopelos when he was 11. He said many of the restaurant’s loyal customers often recognize him from those days.
“Families that have frequented the place remember me when I was high as a table as they used to say,” Silivos said with a grin.
The restaurant would later move to its Scenic Highway location, where it would gain its most fame.
Silivos recalled a visit from former President George H.W. Bush that he credits for making business skyrocket. Bush visited in 1992, Silivos said. It was an election year, and the visit made international news when Bush “forgot” to leave a tip, he said.
“We didn’t present a check,” Silivos said, adding the president’s secret service members paid the bill. “So, they didn’t think about tipping. The next day, that’s what came out in the paper, and I actually had a secret service agent come to my house with an envelope and a tip and a nice note from the president. It made international news. Our family in Greece heard about it before we had the chance to tell them.”
Beyond a subjectively controversial visit by a president, what made customers keep coming to Skopelos was Silivos and his staff’s food.
Silivos in a 2019 interview with WKRG said he only cooks with the best ingredients. Former staff said he expects the best for his customers.
The restaurant now remains closed at its current location at New World Landing. New World Landing remains open to rent as an event space.
Despite Skopelos closure, Silivos isn’t leaving the kitchen just yet.
Silivos recently opened up a new restaurant called Agapi Bistro + Garden at 555 Scenic Highway, right next to his diner-style restaurant, Scenic 90 Cafe.
Silivos said Pensacola foodies can expect similar menu items as seen and tasted at Skopelos, but he’s also trying out new items.
Silivos is hopeful Pensacola residents will come give Agapi, which means “love” when translated to English, a try. He said he’ll be waiting.
“It is kind of bittersweet from the point that Skopelos is not there,” he said. “But, I am still here and people are coming here and the support has been overwhelming.”