Konstantinos “Gus” Vardakastanis passed away in San Francisco on Friday, September 22, 2017 at the age of 57. Gus was a well-loved and well-known local San Francisco businessman and the owner of Gus’s Community Markets. His strong presence and deep sense of caring for his family, and his customers, who he treated as family, was sincere and long lasting.
Gus was predeceased by his father – Dimitrios Vardakastanis. He is survived by his mother – Eleni Vardakastanis, his wife – Georgia Vardakastanis and his two sons – Dimitri Vardakastanis (Penny) and Bobby Vardakastanis (Katerina), brother – Yianni Vardakastanis (Nitsa), sister – Angelica Skiadopoulos (George), nephews – Yianni Skiadopoulos (Lina), Dimitri Skiadopoulos, and niece – Eleni Vardakastanis (Achilleas), and four beloved grandchildren – Giorgia, Kostaki, Kosta, and Eva Vardakastanis.
Gus was born September 15, 1960, on the island of Zakynthos, Greece (Vasilikos).
Gus immigrated to San Francisco in 1976 at the age of 16, with his family where he found work at various produce markets.
In 1981, Gus decided to go back to the island where he met and wed Georgia on February 1, 1981. Together, they returned to San Francisco and in the summer of 1981, Gus and his father fulfilled their dream of opening their own produce market in the Haight. Four years later, they opened a second market in the Outer Sunset (Noriega Produce).
In the early 1990s, Gus and his sons, Dimitri and Bobby, who were actively a part of the business by then, moved locations to expand Haight Street Market and in 2011, added a full-service market to better serve the community Gus loved so dearly. His hard work was rewarded with extreme loyalty from the neighborhood and his work ethic was seen not only through his sons, but through the many employees that have been through the “School of Gus.”
In 2013, Gus and his sons started working on the development of Gus’s Community Market in the Mission, allowing them to serve yet another neighborhood in the city. This endeavor expanded on the vision of what Gus created over the past 30 years, with the same heart and passion for customer service, community and pride in quality products that he had applied to his other two markets.
Gus was the hardest working man everyone knew, but he was still able to find a balance between work and family. Recently he was able to let go of the reigns to his sons and long term employees, while still maintaining a presence at the store, in order to spend more time with his wife and young grandchildren. In Sonoma, Gus fulfilled one of his life long dreams of producing his own family wine and discovered his love and passion for growing his own food. He built a sanctuary for himself and his family, to enjoy the fruits of his labor and after 36 years of marriage, was able to spend more time with Georgia. Their love was an unconditional love that matured over the years into an enduring bond that was visible to all who knew them. A love like theirs is timeless.
Gus also took pride in his sons and the lives they have created for themselves and their own families. The relationship that Gus had with his two sons, Dimitri and Bobby was more than simply father and child. They were colleagues, business partners, and best friends. They had a mutual respect and truly depended upon each other. This trio was rarely seen apart and these memories will never fade.
In the last years we all saw Gus’s new found love of the land of growing his own produce and gardening, and rewarded himself for his lifelong hard work. Over his 30 years in San Francisco, he was still very connected to his family and community in Zakynthos. This year, for the first time, Gus was able to take his sons and their families on a once in a lifetime vacation to the island where he was born.
Everyone who met Gus loved him immediately, he had a strong presence and his connections were deep and long lasting. Family was always first, he always made sure everyone was taken care of, and he never held resentments towards anyone. He leaves a void in all our hearts that will never be filled. We can and will keep his spirit alive through the memories we all hold so dear to our hearts. Fly high Gus.