Book Release for Austin Lunch: Greek-American Recollections
by Constance M. Constant

Author Engages Readers with Delightful Memoirs About Greek-American Experience

Title: Austin Lunch. Greek-American Recollections.
Author: Constance M. Constant
Publisher: Cosmos Publishing
Date of Publication: 2005
Language: English
Category: Memoirs, biography, autobiography
ISBN: 1932455086
Price: $16.29--$24.07
Description: softcover, 445pp; now also in CD-format for blind.
Availability: through publisher, local bookstores, and large online distributors like and Barnes & Noble.

From the Publisher

This memoir amusingly relates the story of a family living through the shock of immigration and the struggles of the Great Depression. Mama defies convention in 1931 and goes to work in her husband’s restaurant, the Austin Lunch.

Located on Chicago’s historic but seamy Near West Side, Papa’s restaurant becomes an uncertain haven for their two children, Helen and Nicky. Ironically, the restaurant with its parade of assorted inner city characters becomes a proving ground for the children to observe the energy, integrity and courage of their hard working parents during the rough thirties and early forties.

The book’s authentic sense of time and place warmly records a personal slice of Twentieth Century history through the honest eyes of childhood.

From Booksellers

During the Great Depression, when many American families lived like nomads in public parks and huddled in doorways on cold nights without money for food or housing, Connie Constant’s mother put on a waitress uniform—unheard-of behavior at the time for a Greek wife—and went to work with her husband in the Austin Lunch, a Chicago restaurant. Michael Dukakis called Constant’s account of her immigrant family’s struggle to make good in America “the quintessential American story.”--Women and Children First Bookstore, Chicago, IL

From Reviewers

Victoria Kourtis
Austin Lunch is a delightful book about the Great Depression. It's strange to use delightful and Great Depression in the same sentence, yet Constance M. Constant integrates this family memoir of hardship, struggle, coping and hope with humor. Family stories and the weird experience of growing up in an old working class restaurant, that turns into a saloon after the repeal of Prohibition, are amusingly related from the perspective of the two inner-city kids who lived it.

As a forty year old, I had no idea of the multiple layers of misfortune that the Thirties "hard times" caused my grandparents, parents, and millions of other Americans. Constant's narrative with its fascinating details made me feel like I was THERE! Austin Lunch is a book for seniors who remember the Depression first hand and for the rest of us who might even benefit from their experiences. Reading this wonderful memoir is a delightful way to find out about those "hard times" you hear about at family events from the "old guys" in your clan. I'm giving these books as gifts for Mother's Day and Father's Day.--Victoria Kourtis,

Penelope M. Petropoul
To learn about your past is a gift. And Connie Constant teaches us in an eminently enjoyable and engaging way in her new book, Austin Lunch. Set on the West Side of Chicago in the 1930s, the Austin Lunch chronicles the lives of an immigrant Greek family as they struggle to survive through the Great Depression.

Sprinkled throughout a fascinating narrative are important historical lessons about the Depression, immigration early in this century, the discrimination and trials Greeks faced and their ultimate victory of spirit and determination.

The main characters - Papa and indomitable Mama - are people who lead heroic lives in ordinary, humble surroundings. The observers are their children Helen and Nick and the story is told from their keen, innocent perspective. The family owns a restaurant, the Austin Lunch, and lives in a simple apartment on Madison Street, a sketchy area at the time. The Depression has left a painfully large number of Chicagoans - including many Greeks - unemployed and struggling for survival. Business is abysmally slow and to help reduce costs and keep the business afloat, Mama decides to defy tradition and work outside the home.

This courageous, determined woman with very limited education overlooks criticism from fellow Greeks and goes to work at the Austin Lunch. Her smarts, love and self-confidence, bolstered by strong faith and character, enable her and her husband to successfully navigate the assorted characters - from upright people to drunks and crooks - who frequented the Austin Lunch and Madison Street. She and her husband, Paul, treat each customer with dignity and fairness and earn the loyalty and friendship of countless individuals.

What captivated me about this book is that the characters are real and honest. As you turn the pages, you experience the family's struggles, joys and sorrows. The gripping stories and anecdotes tug at your heartstrings and may remind you of stories you have heard about your own family.

Readers who migrated from Greece to America and lived through the Great Depression will relate to this book. Those born later will learn from it. The reader feels as though he/she is living in the 1930s in Chicago, and seeing the world through the eyes of a child and the lens of an adult all at the same time.

Constant reminds us of the great stories and heroism in everyday life. In reading her work, one remembers the value of listening to the stories of our families, recognizing the adventures they encapsulate, and treasuring the lessons therein.--Penelope M. Petropoul,

(Posting date 25 August 2006)

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