A much-beloved restaurant owner and philanthropist in Fairfield County has died.
Dimitrios Paschalidis, age 80, died Thursday, April 1, at his home in Norwalk.
He was born August 20, 1940, in the northern village of Saint Dimitrios, Kozani, Greece.
The co-owner of Dimitri’s Diner and Gyro on Pita, both in Ridgefield, Paschalidis died after surgery performed due to aggressive cancer, according to Dimitri's staff.
"We are beyond saddened by the loss of Dimitri," the staff at Dimitri's said. "There is a hole in our hearts"
Before moving to the United States in 1968 in search of a better life, Dimitrios worked in the chemistry department in a factory outside of Kozani, his obituary said.
He opened Dimitri’s Diner in Ridgefield in 1994 with co-owner Kostas Mavridis, and the restaurant quickly became a staple in the town.
People enjoyed dining at Dimitri’s but also went for the chance to speak with Dimitrios himself.
"As he had always been, Dimitrios was a larger-than-life figure. When you met the man, you would never forget the experience," his obituary said.
A defining trait of the restaurant owner was his philanthropic side. He sponsored a number of children’s sports programs, got involved in community activities and fundraisers, and even opened the Dimitri’s Fund in Ridgefield.
The Fund was intended to offer some assistance to two Ridgefield High School Graduates each year – one for academic and one for athletic excellence.
He would often donate food to those in need. If someone came into the diner and looked upset or lonely, Dimitrios would spend some extra time with that person. And for all the children that came into his diner, he would make each and every one of them feel special.
Dimitrios is survived by his wife Maria and daughter Effie, his son Harry with wife Lara, his two grandchildren, Illeas and Maria, his sister-in-law Anthoula Iordanidis, his siblings Anthoula Hatzidimitriou and Eleftherios Paschalidis, their spouses, and his nieces and nephews.
In the spirit of Dimitrios’s giving nature, and in lieu of flowers, the family has set up a GoFundMe for local charities and those in need.
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