Restaurant proprietors, of Newport, R.I.
Family papers, 1913-1965. Bulk, 1918-1933.
Size: 0.25 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 1075
Processed by: Rick Stattler, July 2001
©Rhode Island Historical Society
Brothers Xenophon K. Konstantinides (1881-1959) and Vassilios K. Konstantinides (1879- ) were born in Sabina, Kalavyte, Greece. Xenophon emigrated to the United States circa 1903, was naturalized in 1909, and was living in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1914. Basil apparently remained in Europe from 1912 to 1916 and served in the French Foreign Legion. After that point, both brothers settled in Boston, and soon took the Americanized names of Basil K. "Bill" Constant and Xenophon K. Constant. On December 29 1917, they entered into a partnership with four other Boston Greeks to open a restaurant in Newport, R.I., to be called the Perfect Lunch. Each partner contributed $1400 to the business. Two days later, they renamed their venture the Boston Lunch Company. They rented a storefront at 131 Thames Street in Newport and resided in an adjoining room. This restaurant was a success, with $106,776 in gross revenue in its first year. An adjoining restaurant called the Boston Grill was soon opened for the busy summer seasons at 125 Thames. In 1924, Xenophon purchased a house at 17 Kilburn Court, and in 1926, the Constant brothers and original partner Sotirios G. Starvropoulos bought put the other remaining partners. Deposits remained steady at upward of $60,000 per year through 1931.
The Great Depression hit the business hard, and deposits dropped to $44,125 in 1932. In 1933, the business was placed under the management of trustees. Xenophon Constant was retained as manager of the new business, called the Washington Square Lunch. After two years, he and Sotirios Starvropoulos (otherwise known as Sam Poulas) were able to repurchase the restaurant, and reopened it as the Boston Sea Grille. They operated it as partners through 1949. After that point, Xenophon worked at the Dairy Lounge in Newport and retired. His wife Katina X. Constant died on March 26 1949. He died at Newport Hospital on October 28 1959, at the age of 78. They had two daughters. One married Domenic Richards of Naugatuck, Connecticut. The other, Eleuftheria Constant (1926-1999), never married, and taught in the public schools of Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth, R.I., and Waterbury, Conn.
Meanwhile, Basil Constant was working in various Newport restaurants, including the Greek-owned Blue Moon Gardens in Newport in 1948. After that point, he disappears from the Newport city directories.
eBay Internet auction descriptions of related lots not won (copies in collection file)
Newport directories, 1918-1960
1920 U.S. Census, Rhode Island district 52, page 8 (Xenophon Constant)
Obituaries in the Newport Daily News, October 29 1959 (Xenophon Constant) and January 14 1999 (Eleuftheria Constant)
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Scope and content:
Among the more interesting Basil Constant papers are a 1913 letter in Greek; a 1938 letter from the Newport Democratic City Committee recommending him for a state job as a "loyal, staunch, active Democrat"; and correspondence with Theodore Francis Green's office in 1940 and 1941 in efforts to secure federal employment as a guard.
Eleuftheria Constant's papers include two 1965 letters from Sen. Claiborne Pell in response to her request for government work. The only personal Xenophon Constant item is an excellent typed 1914 letter in English from a Greek-American friend, discussing plans to bring "Vashio" (Vassilios?) to America, and asking for a decision on another business proposition. He concludes, "You do not have to be in a hurry in thinking it over as you always are, but have patience and consider the matter carefully."
The Boston Lunch Company records include several partnership agreements, sale notes and deeds between the various owners; a 1930 letter of appreciation from Mayor Mortimer Sullivan; monthly summaries of bank deposits made, 1918-1932; detailed financial accounts for 1931; and the restaurant's original Sunday license issued in 1918. A 1932 letter from the partners to their creditors reads in part, "We are most desirous of protecting the creditors so that they will not be compelled to lose one cent ... and to protect the reputation of the Boston Lunch, which we hope, after this depressing period has passed away, to use as our trade name... It is impossible to induce partners to come into a business whose liabilities are approximately $30,000, and assets approximately $6,000... We are, however, desirous and willing to continue our business, cutting our overhead to the bone, taking salaries for ourselves sufficient to permit us to take care of our most urgent and necessary wants..."
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These papers were purchased in 2001 from Bruce & Aaron's Antiques via Internet Auction. The antique shop presumably acquired them from the estate of Eleuftheria Constant, who died in 1999. Other important lots were auctioned off at the same time, and went to other bidders, including immigration papers, and photographs from the family's French Foreign Legion service.
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Basil K. Constant
Folder 1. Bank deposits, 1915-1916, 1922
Folder 2. Correspondence, 1913-1954
Folder 3. Life insurance, 1928-1933
Folder 4. Memorabilia, 1921-1944
Folder 5. Tax and employment records, 1928, 1945-1948
Folder 6. Miscellaneous:
Easton's beach bath house registration card, 1945
Two letters from Claiborne Pell, November 1965, re her employment search
Xenophon K. Constant
Folder 7. Personal letter from Stathis Mellas of Rochester, N.Y., 1914
Boston Lunch Company
Folder 8. Agreements (leases and equipment), 1918-1929
Folder 9. Agreements (partnership), 1917-1933
Folder 10. Correspondence, 1919-1933
Folder 11. Financial reports, 1918-1932 (including detailed expenses and revenues for 1931)
Folder 12. Paid bills (rent), 1918-1931
Folder 13. Paid bills (supplies, fixtures, taxes), 1918-1929
Folder 14. Partnership sale notes, 1918-1920
Folder 15. Sunday license, 1918
Newport Community Chest
Folder 16. Donation cards for four Greek-Americans, 1943, and related brochure.
Folder 17: Photocopied research notes re the Constant family.
Vassilios Konstantides declaration of intention, 1909 (photocopy from the Paspalas Collection)
Obituaries of Xenophon and Eleuftheria Constant
1920 census page showing "Xeephone Constant" and Sam Poulas
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Boston Lunch Company (Newport, R.I.)
Boston Grille (Newport, R.I.)
Community Chest of Newport, Inc.
Constant, Basil K., 1879-
Constant, Eleuftheria X., 1926-1999
Constant, Xenophon K., 1881-1959
Democratic Party - Rhode Island - Newport
Emigration and immigration - Rhode Island - Newport
Greek Americans - Rhode Island - Newport
Green, Theodore F., 1867-1966
x Konstantinides, Vassilios K., ca. 1884-
Newport, R.I. - Commerce
Pell, Claiborne deB., 1918-
Restaurants - Rhode Island - Newport
Sullivan, Mortimer A.
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