Community remembers Philippou fondly

Published 9:55 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Philip Philippou, 48, owner of Maple Cafe in Edwardsburg, passed away in a two-vehicle crash Sept. 5.

In the days following the man’s death, those who knew him have shared memories and traits they will miss about him. Most commonly, Philippou was known for smiling and welcoming everyone in the community.

Judy Vitali, a former employee of Maple Cafe, remembers Phillipou for his spunk and his giving personality.

She recalled a funny story about him when she first started working there.

Vitali said when she needed a job, Philippou took her in. On her second day of work, it was really busy and she went to the bathroom and came back out and picked up an order of pancakes or French toast with powdered sugar. Unbeknownst to her, the powdered sugar ended up on her face, and Philippou automatically fired her.

She was confused as to what was happening and everyone else was laughing.

Eventually it was discovered that he thought she was doing drugs in the bathroom, a practice for which the business owner had no tolerance. Fortunately for Vitali, Philippou changed his mind when he found out it was only powdered sugar on her face.

Laurie Watkins, a former waitress at Maple Café, said the staff used to joke and kid around with him a lot. She remembers the sign outside that employees had to set up.

“He never let me do the sign because I didn’t do it right,” Watkins said.

The café may have been filled with funny stories but also filled with love for his employees and customers.

“When the restaurant was a root beer stand, it had two steps and I was pregnant. He fixed the floor so it was flat,” Vitali said. “He said it was for all the customers, but I knew it was also for me — because that was the type of person he was.”

Based on the stories that have been shared throughout the past few days, that was a common theme for Philip: He was a giving, loving man.

His employees say he never said a bad word about anyone, whether it be customers or competitors. They say he always helped out everyone in need. They he treated customers like family by sitting down with them and asking about their children.

“No matter what it was, the customer was always right. He was always particular about the food and what went out. He made the best potato soup ever. And everyone loved his clam chowder. Everything was by scratch,” Watkins said.

He also loved his cars, a friend Mark Perry recalled. Perry said Philippou was into Corvettes, but also drove around a pick-up truck.

“His cars always had to be clean and spotless,” he said.

Watkins said, “My favorite one was his Chrysler and he made sure it was parked a different way where no one could touch it. He liked anything shiny and pretty, is the way he put it.”

Friends Mark Perry and his mother, Marie Perry, knew Philip for 15 years and said even outside of the business he was a generous man.

“He loved his business, but outside of the business, he would always help people out. If he saw someone on the side of the road, he’d pull over and help out. He was a sweet guy,” Mark said.

Marie remembers the last time she saw him.

“I just saw him a week ago and we were talking and I talked to his son. Philip was excited because he was going to Greece sometime soon. I also remember when his parents were here and they were really kind people and I thought that is why Philip is the way he was,” said Marie Perry.

“He was a really genuine guy,” Mark said.