Peter Panayiotou, the owner of Gee Whiz, dies from the coronavirus

This seems too hard to believe: Peter Panayiotou, the longtime owner of Gee Whiz, died on April 5 of COVID-19, nine days after his former partner and owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen, Andy Koutsoudakis, died of the virus. The Trib has a full story here.

Gee Whiz took over the northeast corner of Warren and Greenwich in 1989, and since then has played a part in nearly every neighborhood milestone — the anniversaries of PS 234, little league opening days, kids tastings at Taste of Tribeca  — and many local families’ milestones as well, not to mention their regular weekly suppers. The diner was also known for its elaborate displays at Christmas, Halloween and Easter and in recent years expanded that to celebrate Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and more, keeping that corner of the neighborhood more lively than any other.

Peter and Andy were the first sponsors of both Downtown Little League and Downtown Soccer League when each started in 1993, and sponsored a team every year afterwards, as the walls of the diner proved. For a couple decades the restaurant stretched halfway to Chambers, but in 2016, faced with an increase in both rent and wages, they reduced its footprint by half (Joe & the Juice now has the other half). The pair opened Tribeca’s Kitchen together in 2014, but then each took one restaurant two years later, with Peter keeping Gee Whiz.

Peter’s sons Chris and Anthony currently run the diner, and his daughter Margaret told the Trib that more of the family will join them to keep the diner going. Despite that, this is a terrible blow for the neighborhood.

The family asked that donations be made to the GoFundMe campaign set up by the Koutsoudakis family to supply protective gowns and masks for doctors, nurses and first responders at Richmond County Medical Center in Staten Island.

 

13 Comments

  1. RIP to two pillars of the community.

  2. So so sad. I lived above Gee whiz for 14 years. And now a block from Tribeca Kitchen. Have many memories of both Andy and Peter, remembering their warmth and kindness toward me and my pup (who they waved at often through the window and turned a blind eye to when she came in). Extremely sad news for the neighborhood. Rest In Peace.

  3. Sad news to these families & our neighborhood. RIP to both Peter & Andy and condolences to surviving friends and families.

    When my wife (girlfriend at the time) was relocated to NYC for work in 2004, we chose a small rental at 22 River Terrace in BPC. Our first weekends, we explored the TriBeca neighborhood on foot, discovering Gee Whiz (which we lovingly referred to as “Cheese Whiz” from an inside joke). It became one of our go-to dinera “back in the day.”

    It was a huge family space that made us feel at home. TriBeca Kitchen still provides us that same feeling and just as quality food (before CV19 lockdown).

    Thanks to the families for continuing the owner legacies by continuing to help feed and gather our neighborhood together. We look forward to reconvening for a meal after we get through this crisis together.

  4. Incredibly sad to hear this. RIP to both, and condolences to their families. Gee Whiz has been part of the fabric of the community for decades. :(

  5. Tribes citizen commented about 2 wks ago that their neiborhood was low on corona deaths due to income status.Maybe you should rephrase that arrogant statement

  6. Sad day for Tribeca. Madeline and I would take our kids there and wind up eating with other families for a communal dinner. Like one happy family we were and the kids loved it!

  7. Rest in peace. I worked at Gee Whiz many years. Loved Andy and Pete. Best bosses I ever had. Condolences to their families. God Bless them. Lou the golfer.

  8. Our family is heartbroken losing Andy and then Peter during these terrible days. A huge blow to our community.

    Our kids grew up eating at GeeWhiz and the cozy and familial community Peter and staff created there. We will miss his friendly smile and his greeting us from the counter very much.

    This horrible virus has really hurt TriBeCa irrevocably.

    Our deepest condolences to the staff at GW and Peter’s family.

  9. can’t believe this sad news. they will both be missed!

  10. This is so sad
    So mad about how NY mismanaged this virus
    And how the very selfish young runners and bicyclists who refuse to wear masks impact older people who cannot fight the virus
    My 70 year mom is so afraid to take a walk bc the whole Battery Park and Tribeca esplanade has been over by runners huffing puffing shedding the virus

    This is so bad for elderly
    They have become immobile in their apartments
    When a 70 year old doesn’t walk in 2 months they may never regain mobility

    She used to take a long walk from south BPC to North on esplanade
    It’s now filled with 18 -30 year old runners NO MAsks sweating breathing heavily huffing puffing

  11. I hear ya Bianca but cyclists use the bike lane and obviously ride so fast they won’t give your mother the virus. That said they should wear face masks at public parks as should everyone.

    As for the runners I suggest you have your mother walk alongside the river out of the path of the runners.

    Approach a PEP officer to complain about them not enforcing the facemask rule if there is one. Write your city councilperson and Hudson River Park Trust. If you can spare an hour videotape a running path to count and record facemaskless runners to prove your point then offer it to Spectrum NY 1 News, AMNY, TriBeCa Citizen etc. Or just record them whenever and make sure all videos are timestamped.

    Create a Gmail and post it in this comment section and I’ll write you with viable walkpaths for your mother.

  12. This is truly heart breaking. So many memories at Gee Whiz over the many years I lived there. Before and after 911. Before and after I adopted my daughter. It’s endless how many memories And their love and kindness will always be remembered and a part of the Tribeca community. I am truly so sad and send many blessings and much love to both Andy and Pete. ❤️😢

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