James Boukas, known to his many friends on St. Thomas as "Jimmy," died at his daughter Lori's home Saturday night in Chicago, Ill. where he has been since June.
Boukas, who was 56, had been a resident and well-know restaurateur on St. Thomas since 1986.
His most renowned restaurant, Zorba's on Government Hill, was the preferred dining spot of President Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea when they visited St. Thomas.
The Greek-Mediterranean healthy cuisine at Zorbas was a draw for Chelsea who is a vegetarian.
The Clintons were not the only famous people who touched Boukas' life. He played a bit part in made-for-TV movie about Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis that was filmed in St. Thomas.
Boukas started his restaurant career working in his family's establishments at a very young age.
He was passionate about owning a restaurant. Often, you'd find him at the crack of dawn baking his famous Jimmy's Bread that was used at Zorbas and Café Amici, the other restaurant that he operated. He'd often stay until the last customers left at night, laughing and having a good time with them. His staff and his customers quickly became his family. He had a contagious laugh, a great smile and a great zest for life. His food creations were the finest recipes with the freshest ingredients – which is what made his restaurants so popular.
The quaint, comfortable, eating establishment that he created has been enjoyed by thousands of people from all over the world during the last 14 years of Zorba's operation.
His legend, generosity and spice for life will be missed by many.
Boukas had suffered from brain cancer for more than a year and had been operated on for the condition several times.
He is survived by his two daughters, Lori and Chris Boukas of Chicago, and his son, Steven Boukas of St. Thomas.
A funeral will be held in Chicago and Boukas will be buried in a family plot there.
A memorial service is being planned for St. Thomas. Details will be provided as they become available.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the James Boukas Memorial Fund, PMB 124, 6348 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60646. Well wishes to the family can be made at [email protected].


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