The heartfelt remembrances and expressions of sympathy poured in last March as news spread that COVID-19 had claimed the life of 59-year-old Andreas Koutsoudakis, Sr., the longtime New York City restaurateur and beloved owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen in lower Manhattan.
Just two weeks before his death in the ICU unit at Staten Island’s Richmond County Medical Center, Koutsoudakis, Sr. had closed his restaurant to protect his clients and staff from the virus. It was a characteristically selfless act says his only child, lawyer and St. John’s Bankruptcy LL.M. student Andreas Koutsoudakis, Jr. Even as his father’s condition worsened, Andreas carried his generosity forward. “We brought the whole staff lunch and dinner every day,” he says. “That’s what my dad would have wanted.”
Now, in the wake of his family’s devastating loss, Andreas is continuing the business his father started as a young immigrant from Greece who came to New York with just the clothes on his back. He is well aware of the obstacles. The pandemic has upended the nation’s restaurant industry and the lives of people who work in it. In New York City alone, over 1,000 restaurants have closed for good since the mandated March shutdown. Recent restrictions on indoor dining have only added to the strain. But Andreas is up for the challenge.
As a founding partner at Koutsoudakis & Iakovou Law Group, he represents restaurant owners, among other business clients. “My clients in the restaurant industry know I’m not only dealing with their problems, but living the same ones myself,” he explains. “If I’m not prepared to do something myself, I shouldn’t advise clients to do it. But the opposite is also true, which is one of the major reasons I rebuilt Tribeca’s Kitchen after my father passed away. I viewed it as not only a responsibility to my family, the community, and our employees, but also a sort of proof of concept or case study to show what can be done when you embrace compliance and the tools available under the law with the right counsel.”
Andreas also sees how his clients will benefit from the knowledge and skills he is gaining at St. John’s Law. “With our litigious society and government regulations that impact small businesses disproportionately, my approach has always been to bring ‘big boy tricks to the little guys,’” he shares. “I realized that chapter 11 reorganization is a tool that’s not widely explored and utilized by smaller businesses—even those with $5 million in annual revenues. I want to learn this area of law from the most reputable institution teaching the subject, so I can help my clients access what I believe is the most powerful set of laws in the country: the Bankruptcy Code.”
As he pursues his Bankruptcy LL.M. degree, Andreas remains a steadfast and visible advocate for New York City restaurants, small businesses, and essential workers. He has made several media appearances recently and launched a Go Fund Me campaign in his father’s memory to raise money for protective equipment distributed to New York City hospital personnel.
“My dad gave his life to his family by working hard and serving the Tribeca community for 30 years,” Andreas says. “That’s the kind of commitment to a goal I embrace every day. He taught me that you have to really believe in your word and work, help whenever you can, and in the end, you’ll go to sleep at night or leave this world with those you touched remembering only good things. I couldn’t be luckier to have learned those life lessons from him.”