By Sean Patrick Murphy
“Larger than life.”
That, according to Nick Mourtos, is how his father will be remembered.
There was a life celebration for Chris Mourtos at his business — the Coastline Bar and Grill in Cherry Hill — which was attended by dozens of people. Chris died on June 6 from lung cancer.
“He’s going to be remembered as somebody who was larger than life,” Nick, 29, said. “From the way he dressed to the way he talked to the way he voiced his opinions and to the way he showed his enormous, generous heart to the community and anybody who needed anything.”
Chris owned the Coastline for 33 years .
“Anything he did he worked hard at it,” Nick said of his father, who came from Greece with nothing. “He is the embodiment of the American dream.”
Nick also said that, despite his success, his father never forgot where he came from.
He said Chris was “completely committed” to giving back to the community and helping those who were less fortunate.
“Until the day he died that is something he believed in whole heartedly,” Nick said, noting his dad used the Coastline as a vehicle to help, whether it be Camden County Bar Association or fund-raisers for police officers, fire fighters, and military personnel.
He said the family is “committed” to continuing Mourtos’ good works.
Nick’s mother, Dawn Mourtos, will now run the restaurant. She has been involved with it since it opened.
“She is more than capable of stepping in and taking over, picking up where my dad left off,” Nick said. “We all have faith in her and we all know she can do it.”
Dawn, who was married to Chris for more than 30 years, has lived in Medford for the last 15 years.
“It was incredible,” she said of the celebration. “We’ve got incredible customers.”
Dawn said she plans to stay the course at the Coastline.
Entertainment at the event was provided by the trio Coastline All-Star Band as well as Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.
Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt had glowing words of praise for Chris.
“I’ve never met a more generous guy in the world,” Platt said. “Chris was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back.”
He said Chris’s generosity helped the Coastline to thrive.
Platt also mentioned the scholarship fund in Mourtos’ name that was recently created by the family.
“That’s something that’s in perpetuity and will be something beautiful,” he said.
Platt also said the tremendous turnout at the life celebration is indicative of the kind of person Chris was.
“I think this just shows the esteem that he was held in,” the mayor said. “This is just a small, small portion of the people that he helped.”
He also said many of Chris’s generous acts have gone unnoticed.
Antigone Mourtos, Chris’s niece, said she was “heartbroken” when she found out Chris had cancer.
She echoed many others by saying her uncle was generous, full of life, and had a strong work ethic.
“He’s going to be missed by everybody,” Antigone said.
Harry Starkman, CPA, represented Chris since “day one” at the Coastline and worked with Chris’s father 45 years ago.
“So I’ve been in the family all that time,” Starkman said.
“Chris was a give-all type of person,” he said. “If he believed in a cause there was nothing to stop him.”
He would even sacrifice his time at his business to help out a person or a cause, Starkman said.
“He was a tremendous businessman,” the accountant continued. “In my opinion no one could operate this type of business better than him.”
Starkman also said Chris will be missed.
“I believe he was a friend to whomever he met,” he said.
A scholarship fund has been established in Chris’s name at Shawnee High School. The purpose of this scholarship is to help children who are in need, which was a cause that was so close to Chris’s heart.
Those who wish to help in continuing Chris’s dedication to giving back, please make tax-deductible checks payable to:
Shawnee Endzone Club
P.O. Box 1692
Medford, NJ 08055
Please note “Chris Mourtos Scholarship Fund”