4429 Central Avenue
Owner: John Kaltsounis
Head Chef: Milton Polemicle
Landmark’s menu attracts a crowd as diverse as the restaurant’s food, which includes Greek, Creole, Italian and American items.
John Kaltsounis and his wife Sofia arrived in New York City from Karpensi, Greece, more than 40 years ago.
Joined by his brothers, Larry and Tommy – the family had no money, no jobs, and a limited ability to speak or to understand English. So, the brothers searched for opportunities to do the only thing they knew – work hard.
Not long after their arrival, Kaltsounis and his brothers found a place in the burgeoning New York food-service business – a collection of restaurants offering food reflective of the diverse population of the city. Over the next 15 years Kaltsounis learned what it took to survive as a restaurant owner. He worked in various places as a busboy, a waiter, a cook, and as a member of the kitchen and clean up staff. “My fondest memory of those years – hard work,” Kaltsounis said. “Everything I did was hard work.”
And the hard work paid off.
Kaltsounis would return to one of the restaurants at which he worked to become its owner. And in 1989, Kaltsounis and Larry joined their brother Tommy in Charlotte to open Landmark Restaurant and Diner on Central Avenue.
“In the beginning the food was based on New York,” Kaltsounis said. “But as our customers started coming in we had to change it to cater to more people, add more southern-style cooking.”
But the brothers didn’t stop at tending to the taste of the south. Today, the Landmark menu includes more than 40 items from a variety of cultures including American, Creole, Italian, and Greek, the culture of their ancestors. With intended homage to their experience working in the northern city, Landmark’s menu attracts a crowd as diverse as the restaurant’s food.
“Any day you can come in and see a group of businessmen in one booth, and the next booth over you see a bunch of bikers, and the next booth over a group of old ladies celebrating their 85th birthday,” said Milton Polemicle, Landmark’s head chef and Kaltsounis’s son-in-law.”
“From eggs to lobster tails we have everything,” he said. “Its hard to name a favorite.”With more than 40 family members now living in Charlotte, Kaltsounis is grateful for the opportunities he and his family has found in America and in Charlotte.
“It’s a good city, growing so fast,” he said. “When I came it was a little town. It’s a big city right now, more opportunity to do something, to do everything.”
“This is the best country in the world,” he said. And with more than 40 years of experience in the restaurant business, Kaltsounis’s philosophy on serving his customers has not changed.
His main goal in providing food for the people that eat his family’s food is one that has remained since his early days as a busboy. “I pray everyday for everybody’s health,” Kaltsounis said. “Not just mine, or my family’s.”
– Profile written by Ayofemi Kirby