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Thursday, September 29, 2022


Zorba's is closed and much of its contents has been auctioned off by the Small Business Administration, which held a lien on the business due to the owner's default on a Hurricane Marilyn recovery loan.
But there's still Greek food and Greek music and Greek dance and the legendary Greek love of life personified by Anthony Quinn in the movie version. And there's still Jimmy Boukas, who brought it all to St. Thomas.
As most fans of Zorba's and friends of Boukas know, the closing and the foreclosure have to with Jimmy's present medical problems. Diagnosed with a brain tumor, he has undergone surgery twice in recent months and just spent a few weeks in post-operative therapy at Chicago's Rehabilitation Institute.
He'll continue outpatient therapy at the institute for a while, meantime staying with his daughter Lori Boukas, who lives and works in Chicago — where Jimmy himself grew up.
Jimmy, to get to the point of this article, has no medical insurance. And he's got a lot of medical bills.
And it needs to be said, because of misinformation published elsewhere, that he does not, and never did, own 1854 Haus, the historic onetime home at the west end of Government Hill that housed Zorba's for so many years.
Boukas isn't rich, except in friends.
So, his friends — and his associates and even his competitors — on St. Thomas are putting together an event Monday night in the nightclub at The Old Mill that's being billed as a birthday bash (this Friday really is Jimmy's birthday) but is most of all a fund-raiser.
His best-known customers, the Clinton family of Washington, D.C., aren't likely to be there. But they're surely welcome, as is everyone else.
Rick Kingsley, Boukas' longtime associate in the restaurant business, is one of the prime movers behind the project. He's planning to lay on a Greek buffet like those Boukas would provide at his Friday Wine Downs in Jimmy's Studio next door to Zorba's. The food is one of the freebies for those who make their $10 donation at the door.
There'll be a cash bar, a raffle, a silent auction and live music pretty much all night long. The talent part of the program is being organized by James Anderson, the on-island half of Dos Guitarras. He and his partner, Gennaro della Vecchia, started playing classical and Mediteraean guitar on Sunday nights at Zorba's in the early '90s and developed a following that was still faithful last season.
Among the artists on tap for Monday night are Anderson himself, the Wize Gize and Public Nuisance bands, blues singer Leeolive Tucker and gospel singer Michal Rhymer (who is executive director of the Family Resource Center, which has held its fall Just Desserts fund-raisers at the donated Jimmy's Studio for the last two years). Anyone else who'd like to sign on to entertain should call Anderson at 775-2637
Anyone willing to contribute gifts of goods and services for the raffle and silent auction should call Kingsley at 776-5670.
And if you just want to make a donation direct from your checkbook, you can make it out and mail it to: Jimmy's Health Fund, PMB 124, 6348 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago IL 60646-3728.
For those who'd like to send an encouraging word to Boukas, daughter Lori has set up an e-mail account. The address is jimboukas@aol.com. For snail mail, use the address in the preceding paragraph. Lori only asks that no one mention that Zorba's has been closed and its contents sold. That's news he hasn't been told, she says, and "we just want him to concentrate on getting better."
The party starts at 7 p.m. and will continue until the ever-popular until. All proceeds will go toward the fund to help pay Boukas' medical bills.

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