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Friends remember 'genuine, kind-hearted' Petersburg restaurant owner: 'He loved the community'

Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 17:27:19-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Two features make the Mad Italian Pasta and Steakhouse on Crater Road in Petersburg unique, according to longtime customers - a table set that has hung from the ceiling for decades and Chris Skordas, its owner.

A community builder with a kind, friendly demeanor, family members confirm Skordas passed away over the weekend. Hundreds of people have sent the restaurant and family messages of support in the days since.

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“There’s not one word that can describe this man, but he was selfless, he was humble, he had a sense of humor," said Mark Talbott, who has been going to the Mad Italian since it opened in 1975.

"When you hear the name Chris Skordas, the first words that pop into mind are genuine, kind-hearted. He loved the community," said Michael Edwards, who similarly has been a regular his entire life.

Flowers now rest outside the restaurant, which Skordas opened nearly 50 years ago, several years after moving to the U.S. from Greece.

Edwards said Skordas created an unmatched family environment at the Mad Italian, adding it is the longest-operating Petersburg restaurant still run by its original owner.

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“Countless kids he’s watched grow up, including myself, families he’s watched grow up, marriages. When you had a death in your family, Chris was on the phone," he said.

Talbott said he felt that firsthand.

Skordas helped him through difficult personal and health journeys through their decades-long friendship.

“It’s hard to come up with words to say. It’s not a goodbye. He’ll definitely be remembered," he said.

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Mark Talbott

Both men said countless civic groups, organizations, ball teams, and first responders received support — whether it financial or a friendly place for a hot meal — from the Mad Italian and Skordas.

"Definitely a void that nobody will be able to fill in the future. His commitment, his support will go unmatched. I have my family, but the Skordas family is my extended family," Edwards said.

On social media, the Skordas family posted this message on the Mad Italian Facebook page:

Whatever comes next for the restaurant, Edwards and Talbott said Skordas will remain close to their hearts.

"I want him to be remembered as somebody who genuinely, truly cared about humanity, his customers, and the city he operated in for 50 years," Edwards said. "This definitely will not be goodbye, as long as you keep the memory alive, and that is the memory of a genuine, kind-hearted individual.”

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Michael Edwards

"It’s a lot of stories, they’re not going to be the same without Chris, but they will remain," Talbott said.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced at this time.

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