George Christy Talks About Taverna Tony, Marilyn Monroe, Aretha Franklin and more!
A lion in summer and autumn, winter and spring, he’s there without fail. He’s enthusiastically greeting the regulars, along with the newcomers to his Taverna Tony in the Malibu Country Mart.
Our latter-day Zorba, Tony Koursaris is celebrating Taverna Tony’s silver anniversary of 25 years. Where he brings joy to the happy crowds that he loves to welcome and please.
Taverna Tony is open all day with Tony never taking a day off from serving lunch, midday meals and dinner to the faithful, who return for their favorite Greek foods.
Leonardo DiCaprio orders the grilled giant prawns. Titanic’s James Cameron considers Taverna Tony his commissary, counting on Tony to deliver his healthy vegan soups and dishes. Mitzi Gaynor and Tony Danza praise the roast spring lamb, among Tony’s other specialties. Linda Thompson’s enamored with the charcoal-grilled octopus – “not easy to find such a tender taste.”
Tony catered the wedding anniversary party for Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at their oceanside Malibu estate. He brings take-out to Barbra Streisand and Josh Brolin who live nearby. Pleases his frequent diner Tony Hopkins with the best of the menu, which includes popular items from his favored Greek feast.
Those addictive dips, from the taramosalata (red caviar) to hummus and tzatziki.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world, enjoying the most wonderful time seeing the people I know and love so contented,” he reflects. “Other restaurauteurs may find their work difficult. Well, it may be tough but what’s better than knowing what you do reaches the far and wide world beyond Malibu.”
Alas, a phone call several days ago from Tony relayed the news that, with health issues affecting his family, he needed to spend time with them. That he could not manage the day to day necessity of spending hours upon hours of being at Taverna Tony and staying on top of the perfection he desires.
“Please don’t make this a sad story. The new owner Zane Koss, who owns the Malibu Country Mart, promises that everything will remain the same. He has all my recipes, and is maintaining our loyal staff. And indeed, everybody’s favorite server, Philemon, will continue as he has over the decades, driving from Riverside and back to attend to the appreciative families.”
A native from the Island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, Tony pioneered Greek cuisine at his Corfu restaurant in London, later in Houston, Texas and then at the Great Greek, where he partnered with Ernie and Vicky Criezis in Los Angeles. Before buying the Malibu Adobe in the Country Mart that he transformed into the friendliest tavernaesque space with charming island décor, and hired a band that played the jaunty a la Grecque tunes for listening and dancing nightly.
He mentioned Aretha Franklin had dined there with Motown genius Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson. As with all of us, he mourns the loss of this extradinary lady, whose first marriage reception we attended at the Beverly Hilton.
Along with others, we discovered that Aretha lost her life without a will. We consulted with estate planning attorney Reeve Chudd, whose legal expertise is unparalleled.
“Without a living trust, the probate of Arethra Franklin’s assets and debts will make her entire state available in the public record,” reveals Reeve.
“After the federal government takes it’s share (40% of the net value of her estate over $11.18 million), the net estate will be distributed evenly to her four sons.
“No charities and no friends, employees or other relatives will participate in her estate, even if she wanted them to.
“The estate tax is due nine months after the date of death, her estate may be illiquid (from the lack of planning) so that her estate administrator may have to sell at ‘fire sale’ prices to pursue the cash to pay the taxes and avoid interest and penalties for late payment.”
Uncle Sam is waiting. Unless there is a will in your hip pocket.