Restaurateur fed, entertained the tops of Dearborn

Anthony Koustas wore many hats in a life highlighted by a decorated military career, a keen interest in politics and perhaps most notably, as the face of the iconic Topper restaurant for half a century.
Mr. Koustas died Wednesday, July 15, 2009, following complications from an outpatient surgery, said his son, Dan Koustas.
Anthony Koustas was born Oct. 12, 1923, in Barbertown, Ohio, to parents Harry and Irene. His exposure to the restaurant business came early when his parents moved to Ecorse and opened Tasty Barbecue on Ford Road in Dearborn in the late 1930s.
Mr. Koustas served in the Army in World War II, where his multilingual skills helped propel him to the rank of sergeant before he was discharged. When he returned from service, Koustas enrolled at Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in political science.
Mr. Koustas’ academic pursuits were put on the back burner, though, and in 1949 he began working at the Topper restaurant, which recently had been purchased by his father. He never left. Over the years Mr. Koustas turned the Topper into a Dearborn institution.
“It was a consistent fixture. He always had something going on there, and people knew that it was the spot in town to come in and have a good time,” said Dan Koustas.
It is believed to be the first restaurant in town to serve pizza, in the 1950s, and was a favorite lunch spot of Ford Motor Co. employees. The restaurant did well until Mr. Koustas decided to call it a career and sold the restaurant in 2002 to make way for Cheli’s Chili Bar, which still occupies the space.
Surviving Koustas are children, Daniel (Kelly) and Leslie (Ilio) DiMascio; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Koustas also was the husband of the late Nancy, who died in 1991.