Family, friends remember Sotirios 'Sam' Drivas

Christopher Dornblaser
Photos of Sotirios "Sam" Drivas hang in his restaurant Two Brothers Italian Grill & Bar, Sunday January 31, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

On Saturday night, the bar at Two Brothers Italian Grill seemed business as usual.

To the employees and regulars at the Newberry Township restaurant, it was anything but.

The beloved owner, Sotirios "Sam" Drivas, was struck by a vehicle and killed on Interstate 83 Tuesday as he was attending to a flat tire. He was going to turn 79 on Friday.

Sam's son, Tom Drivas, owner of Nittany Pizza, located at 2073 Springwood Road in York Township, learned a lot from his father, a man he described as "selfless."

"I can't reiterate enough what a hard-working person he was," he said.

Tom Drivas said his father would never buy things for himself, instead opting to get things for his two children or his seven grandchildren.

Sam Drivas moved to America from Greece in 1964 and started working as a dishwasher, eventually becoming a cook, according to his son. Sam's first business was a hot dog cart in Manhattan.

Sam's hard work was something he instilled in his children, teaching them to not be afraid to work hard and to help people.

In 1984, he opened Two Brothers, 1570 Robinhood Drive.

"I'd say definitely, Two Brothers is his baby," Tom Drivas said.

Two Brothers: Bob and Kathy Davis, of Goldsboro, are regulars at the bar, and Bob had known Sam for six years before he died. The bar is sentimental for the couple as they met there back in 2012. They were at the bar Saturday night, their first time there since Sam's death on Tuesday.

"He was a heck of a good guy," Bob Davis said. "Sammy treated everybody really good."

Davis said Sam would go out and try to make all of his customers feel comfortable. Sam had a regular spot at an end table in front of the bar where he would sit when he had nothing to do.

"He would come out and say hi to everybody," Davis said.

Davis said Sam did a lot of things at the bar, including cooking some of the food.

Photos of Sotirios "Sam" Drivas hang in his restaurant Two Brothers Italian Grill & Bar, Sunday January 31, 2016. Submitted  photo

"It's going to be hard trying to keep up with what Sammy used to do," Davis said.

When Davis found out the news, he said his heart sank.

"I know he's going to be sadly missed," Davis said.

Davis said Sam would go out of his way to help people.

"If anybody needed help with something, he was going to help them," he said.

In addition to helping with the restaurant, Sam Drivas used to have fun with his patrons. Davis said he would see Sam some nights with a bottle balanced on his head as he danced to music.

Photos of Sotirios "Sam" Drivas hang in his restaurant Two Brothers Italian Grill & Bar, Sunday January 31, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Heather Leese, a bartender at Two Brothers for the past 11 years, also spoke highly of Sam. She said she couldn't think of a single bad memory with him.

"He was just amazing, and you don't hear about that anymore," she said. Leese said Sam would sometimes order shots for the patrons.

"I don't know anybody who didn't like him," she said.

She said Sam would walk her to her car after her shift ended.

"He always made you feel safe," she said.

On Friday, the bar was packed with people for Sam's 79th birthday, according to Leese. People were doing shots of ouzo, one of Sam's favorite drinks, in his honor. Tom Drivas said his father was very comfortable talking to the customers and making them feel like home.

“My dad's a down to earth guy, a very hands-on guy,” he said.

Helping: In addition to his restaurant, Sam Drivas was involved with his church, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, which he had attended for a long time.

"My dad was a man of quiet faith, but he was a really deeply religious person," Tom Drivas said.

Tom said Sam served the church in different ways, such as a greeter, but Sam really enjoyed cooking for the Greek food festival the church holds. He cooked for it every year.

"We would joke, because his vacation would be to go work obscene hours at the Greek food festival," Tom said, adding that his dad always looked forward to it.

Tom said his dad was a person who was willing to help people. He said Sam traveled on I-83 frequently and would often stop at car crashes on the road to see if he could help. One time he had gotten out in his all white chef's uniform and was mistaken for a nurse.

“A nurse said to him, 'Oh good, let’s help,'” Tom said, adding that his father got a kick out of that.

Sam had two children, Tom and George, and seven grandchildren. He was married to his wife, Angela, for almost 52 years.

A funeral service will be held at noon Tuesday at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, 2500 Pine Grove Road, with visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the church.

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