An 80-year bond between 2 families leads to a graceful refund

When the owner of Crabby Creek restaurant in Towson lost his business during the coronavirus pandemic, he didn’t give up and opened a new establishment, but other hurdles presented themselves and things looked grim. What happened next is another family’s payback, 80 years in the making. The Southern Kitchen in Hunt Valley is now open for business. At the table, members of two families – one Greek, one Jewish – who share a remarkable story that ends in the restaurant, but began when Angela Kanaras (then Michalos) and Josephine Becker (then Velelli), were little girls in Greece at the height of World War II. Kanaras and Becker’s fathers knew each other. Recognizing the danger to Jewish families, Kanaras’ father invited the Velellis to come to their village and hide from the Nazis in a barn on their property. They managed to escape the Nazis, but that’s not the end of the story. In 1951, Kanaras’ family emigrated to Baltimore. Five years later, Becker’s family followed. But how would they find them? Not so easy back then. So they left a note at Lexington Market in a Greek store, and the note was sent to Kanaras’ family. Kanaras said. Kanaras’ family never asked for anything in return for their kindness. “I was always proud of my grandmother and my grandfather for doing this. I want accolades,” Mike Pantelis said. But a repayment opportunity presented itself, and Becker’s family swung into action. Vasilios Kanaras was struggling to pay the unexpected expenses to open the restaurant. Angela Kanaras informed Becker’s daughter, Yvonne Fishbein, who started a GoFundMe page. money was raised to save the restaurant. Fishbein said it was his family who were saved. Without Vasilios Kanaras’ grandfather, who died in 1975, she wouldn’t be here. “I think more recently now it really hits me, to know this story. But now it’s such a nice story and with everything else in the world,” Fishbein said.

When the owner of Crabby Creek restaurant in Towson lost his business during the coronavirus pandemic, he didn’t give up and opened a new establishment, but other hurdles presented themselves and things looked grim.

What happened next is another family’s payback, 80 years in the making.

Southern Kitchen in Hunt Valley is now open for business. At the table, members of two families – one Greek, one Jewish – who share a remarkable story that ends in the restaurant, but began when Angela Kanaras (then Michalos) and Josephine Becker (then Velelli), were little girls in Greece at the height of World War II.

Kanaras and Becker’s fathers knew each other. Recognizing the danger to Jewish families, Kanaras’ father invited the Velellis to come to their village and hide from the Nazis in a barn on their property.

They managed to escape the Nazis, but that’s not the end of the story.

In 1951, Kanaras’ family emigrated to Baltimore. Five years later, Becker’s family followed. But how would they find them? Not so easy back then. So they left a note at Lexington Market in a Greek store, and the note was sent to Kanaras’ family.

“We had the first Thanksgiving together at my mom’s house when they arrived. Happiness or sadness, we’re still together,” Kanaras said.

Kanaras’ family never asked for anything in return for his kindness.

“I was always proud of my grandmother and my grandfather for doing it. We always had a sense of pride, but my grandparents didn’t want any accolades,” Mike Pantelis said.

But then a repayment opportunity presented itself, and Becker’s family sprang into action.

Vasilios Kanaras was struggling to pay the unexpected expenses to open the restaurant. Angela Kanaras informed Becker’s daughter, Yvonne Fishbein, who started a GoFundMe page.

“The next day or two, anyway, I’m looking at this GoFundMe page and their whole family just arrived,” Vasilios Kanaras said.

Enough money has been raised to save the restaurant. Fishbein said it was her family who were saved. Without Vasilios Kanaras’ grandfather, who died in 1975, she wouldn’t be here.

“I think more recently now it really hits me, to know this story. But now it’s such a nice story and with everything else in the world,” Fishbein said.


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Elaine R. Knight