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Jim Fifis, 68, rose from dishwasher to Ponzio's co-owner

Courier-Post staff


Jim Fifis, who rose from a dishwasher's job to oversee one of South Jersey's best-known restaurants, has died.

Mr. Fifis, 68, was a partner with his three sons at Ponzio's in Cherry Hill. He died of natural causes Wednesday.

Born in Andros, Greece, Mr. Fifis came to the United States in 1966. He started out washing dishes at Ponzio's in Brooklawn, a restaurant run by family members.

He became a partner in the Brooklawn diner in 1971, then sold his interest to become a partner at Ponzio's in Cherry Hill in 1992.

His three sons joined him as partners at the Route 70 restaurant in 2000.

The Cherry Hill resident represented a generation of "Greek pioneers" who came to America to provide a better life for their families, said his son, Christopher Fifis of Lumberton.

"He came here determined to work . . . so his family could get the opportunities he never had," said his son, noting Mr. Fifis regularly pitched in with restaurant chores. "No job was beneath him."

"He died a rich man," the son added. "He died with his family around him, with a lot of love and dignity."

Mr. Fifis also is survived by his wife, Violetta, sons John of Cherry Hill and Nick of Medford, and seven grandchildren.

Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday and after 11 a.m. Monday at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church, 615 Mercer St., Cherry Hill.

Services will be held at the church at 12:30 p.m. Monday.

Burial will be in Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill.

Memorial contributions may be made to Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Drive, Evesham 08053-9841.