Memorable Manitobans: Demos P. “Jimmy the Greek” Ginakes (1934-2008)
Born at Niata, Greece on 24 November 1934, he emigrated to North America at the age of 14. His destination was the United States, because he had three uncles in Fargo. But one uncle thought it would be easier to emigrate to the United States from Canada. So he was sent to join his first cousin, Ann Buzunis in Winnipeg, in 1950.
Around 1954, he married Greek immigrant Maria “Mary” Panopoulos (1932-2020) and they eventually had two daughters and a son. In 1955, he got into the restaurant business that would make him into a local legend. In 1956, he joined his brother-in-law, Tom Panopoulos, at the Manhattan Restaurant on Portage Avenue, across from The Hudson's Bay store. In 1960, he acquired a new partner and moved to a new location. That same year, brother John Ginakes joined him at Danny’s Quick Lunch, at Main and Euclid. A year later, they left Danny’s and with brother Perry Ginakes now aboard, the family opened two Thunderbird drive-in restaurants.
In 1969, through his friendship with Ben Hatskin, he acquired title to a building on Kennedy Street that would become the Town and Country nightclub. For the next decade, the T & C was the Winnipeg destination of some of the biggest names in show business, including a newcomer singer from New York named Barbara Streisand. The three brothers went their separate ways after the T & C closed, and in 1982 he acquired a new partner. He and son Peter opened a Rib Shack restaurant on Pembina Highway. Finally, in 1989, he resurrected the name of a famous eatery from the 1950s, and opened the Pony Corral by acquiring the lease of a former Burger King restaurant on Pembina Highway. The Pony Corral later expanded to four restaurants.
He died while on vacation in Greece on 4 August 2008.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 August 2008.
“Manitobans’ Legacy a Better Province,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 January 2009, page B3.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 9 September 2020