For nearly 40 years, Little Pete’s was more than just a greasy spoon. It became a landmark and the pride of Philadelphia. Now the city is mourning the loss of one of its last all-night downtown diners.
Little Pete’s was named after Pete Koutroubas, a Greek immigrant who started in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher. He was so short he had to stand on a milk crate to do the job. That’s where he got the nickname.
“Because I used to work at a place, and the owner was Big Pete — he was like six-foot something. And there was a manager there who was Pete. And I was the busboy. I was the little one. They used to call them Big Pete, Middle Pete and Little Pete. So I got stuck with Little Pete,” he said.
That name, in red on a white old-fashioned sign, is what invited people in before sitting down at one of the simple booths or on a stool around a U-shaped counter.
Generations of lawyers, construction workers, business people and janitors have been served Reubens and chicken pot pies here since 1978. It became a community outpost in a section of the city that went from…