Aggressive fire destroys popular Greek restaurant in Kelowna, B.C.

Click to play video: '“Your whole life’s work up in smoke”:  Owners of one of Kelowna’s oldest restaurants react to fire gutting it.' “Your whole life’s work up in smoke”: Owners of one of Kelowna’s oldest restaurants react to fire gutting it.
WATCH: Olympia Taverna, a popular Greek restaurant in Kelowna, B.C., was destroyed by fire on Tuesday night. – Oct 7, 2020

A fast-moving fire destroyed a popular Greek restaurant in Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday night.

“Seeing all the smoke and emotions, just your whole life’s work up in smoke,” said Chris Koutsantonis, co-owner of the Olympia Greek Taverna.

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Firefighters were dispatched to the 100 block of Highway 33 at approximately 11:13 p.m.

There were two employees inside closing up the restaurant for the night when they smelled smoke.

They went outside to investigate the source of the smell and discovered flames coming from the restaurant itself.

According to the Kelowna Fire Department (KFD), the fire started in the mechanical room at the back of the restaurant and quickly spread and devoured a big chunk of the roof.


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Witness video sent to Global News showed the restaurant on fire.

Kelowna restaurant Olympia Greek Taverna was destroyed by flames on Tuesday night. Courtesy: Kelly Morris

The fire has been deemed non-suspicious with the cause likely electrical in nature or some kind of a mechanical failure, according to the KFD.

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Twenty-five firefighters responded to the aggressive blaze, along with four engines, a command unit, a rescue truck and two ladder trucks.

The restaurant, owned by two brothers, has a rich family history with their father and uncle starting the first Olympia restaurant in downtown Kelowna in 1968.

The Rutland location was opened in 1973.

All three generations have now been working in the family business.

“My mother, 85 years old comes in every morning…and puts in 3-4 hours of work, ” said co-owner Mike Koutsantonis. “My daughter…comes in and does the prep.”

And while news of the devastating fire continues to sink in, the two brothers are already talking about re-building plans.

“It’s like a staple, it’s like a community icon,” said Chris Koutsantonis. “We have to keep it going, so definitely I think we’re going to rebuild for sure.”

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The flames prompted the closure of a section of the highway’s southbound lane between Park Road and Prior Road on Wednesday morning. A detour was in effect, according to DriveBC.

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The restaurant reopened on June 17 following a closure due to COVID-19.


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