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Popular Concord eatery facing closure after building bought by bank

  • The Gas Lighter on North Main Street in Concord on Tuesday.

  • Gas Lighter owner Soula Maloutas pours a beer at her restaurant on North Main Street in Concord on Tuesday. MELISSA CURRAN photos / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/14/2021 12:58:31 PM

Soula Maloutas has run the Gas Lighter restaurant in downtown Concord for almost 45 years, with the same original menu and beloved recipes.

Located at 204 North Main St., the building is being sold to a bank later this year, leaving an uncertain future for the popular Greek eatery.

“It bothers me a lot,” Maloutas said. Now 68 years old, she is not ready to retire from the business and still has a loyal following of customers.

“It’s one of the best places in Concord, for so many years,” she said.

Maloutas came to America from Greece in 1971, and started the Gas Lighter in 1977 with her husband. He passed away 21 years ago, and since then, Maloutas said, she’s run the restaurant mostly by herself.

“We came here for the American dream,” she said. “And we did okay, until today – we’re still doing all right.”

Business, she said, has generally been good, with the exception of the difficulties caused by COVID-19. But with those restrictions easing and more people getting vaccinated, Maloutas said the restaurant is getting more customers again. Despite that uptick, she is faced with the closure of her business.

Maloutas is not sure when the Gas Lighter will have to close to make way for the bank, but she hopes to receive advance warning. Her current estimate is that it will be sometime in September.

“For my whole life, I spent it here,” Maloutas said. Several customers have urged her to try and stay open.

“Everybody’s so sad,” she said. “They’re looking for me to find a place.”

Maloutas said the effort of customers helping her look for a new space to run the Gas Lighter was touching and “very nice.”

For now, Maloutas said, she wants her regular customers and all others to know that the restaurant – and it’s offerings like the Greek Souvlaki dinner and the Chicken Gyro sandwich — is not going anywhere yet.

“Come support your local business,” she said. “We’re still here, still open.”

She said she isn’t ready to give up on the Gas Lighter any time soon.

“Hopefully I can find another place.”

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