When Andy took over in 1988, he added items like crab cakes, shrimp salad, and beef brisket. Another milestone event happened that year: He and Alexia became engaged. They seemed destined to meet and start a life together.
Andy was born in Virginia, but the family soon moved to Greektown before eventually settling in Timonium. Alexia spent her early years living near Greektown. Her father, Jimmy Meligakos, ran Kozy Kitchen, an old-time diner on Ridgely Street not far from where Horseshoe Casino stands. She often helped out on Saturdays, washing dishes in a three-section sink and making “half-and-half drinks” (half iced tea and half lemonade, generally called an Arnold Palmer today) for customers. Her dad would often take her to G&A when she was a little girl while her mom was shopping on “The Avenue,” as Eastern Avenue was called then.
The couple was introduced briefly on the campus of what was then Essex Community College by a friend and went their separate ways. Andy attended the University of Maryland as a business major. Alexia was working at Milano’s restaurant in Pikesville when one of the business’ silent partners visited. Surprised, she blurted out, “That’s the hot-dog man!” It was Jimmy Farantos, Andy’s dad and, though she didn’t know it at the time, her future father-in-law.
When Alexia was transferred to the Milano’s in Timonium, Andy, who had worked at various restaurants in Baltimore and Ocean City over the years, was making the pizza there. He immediately told her, “I’m going to marry you one day.” After a first date on New Year’s Eve, they tied the knot in 1989 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation on West Preston Street. “She is a sweetheart,” Andy says of his bride of 32 years.
Andy and Alexia have three children, who are in their 20s. Their eldest daughter, Anna MacCuish, recently opened a brunch spot, Easy Like Sunday, in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Sean, following in her family’s food footsteps. She also gave birth to her parents’ first grandchild, Kingston Andrew, on Dec. 1, 2020. Another daughter, Demi, is a graphic design artist, and son Dimitri is an R.N.
Alexia didn’t start working regularly at G&A until about 18 years ago. Dimitri was born with a blood disorder, a condition called sickle beta thalassemia, and she needed to spend time with him in the hospital when he was younger. Then one day, she went to G&A to help out, and “I got stuck,” she says with a laugh.
Over the years, the neighborhood has changed, Andy says. Epstein’s folded in 1991, Bethlehem Steel shut down, and Westinghouse and General Motors closed. The list went on. Drugs were also an issue. “The area became rough from about 1992 to 1999,” he says. “I became particular [about] who came in here. Then, Canton revived it.”
Gerry Pecora remembers when customers stood in line to get a seat at one of the 14 counter stools and 17 booths in the narrow, storefront restaurant. She grew up in Highlandtown, and even though she lives in Dundalk now, she returned to G&A every five weeks with her husband, John, whenever they went to the nearby salon Hair Setters.
On their visits, John would order one of the breakfast plates, which are served all day, leaning toward fried eggs with scrapple or an omelet. Gerry would get a Coney dog or burger, splurging on fries occasionally. “It’s the family atmosphere,” she says about the restaurant’s draw. “I have good memories of my childhood when I come back.” She’s sorry the restaurant is relocating but adds, “I think it’s a good thing. We’ll go.”