Nick Kelamis is where the story of the Savoy Restaurant begins. In 1910, he left Greece with a dream to build a better life for his family in America. A railroad job brought him to Tulsa, Oklahoma, the place he would call home for the rest of his life. Working multiple jobs allowed Nick to save enough money to open the Kelamis Café at 208 S. Boston in 1925. Eventually his son, Tommy, left Greece to join his father in the business. While working in the café Tommy befriended a young waitress named Maxine Rawlings and after a courtship, they were married in 1941. Unfortunately, Nick passed away the same year.
Tommy was drafted into the U.S. military in 1944 which caused him to sell the café. After his military service he was a partner in a pool hall before deciding to re-open the family restaurant in 1954. Urban renewal forced the Savoy Restaurant to relocate in 1975 and move to their current location at 6033 S. Sheridan.
Tommy and Maxine’s son, Bill Kelamis, managed the restaurant with Maxine, and has continued to operate the business after Maxine’s retirement.
Interview with Maxine Kelamis
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: July 21, 2016
Date Published: February 17, 2017
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.
Tags: Urban renewal, Williams , Baptist church, Greece, Immigrant, Army, tutor, Greek community, Coney Island, James Maxwell, Cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy