Every restaurant and bar in Abbotsford has its regulars, but there is likely only one Jim Costinak.
On any given lunch hour he can be found at Ekos, sitting in the same corner, doing a crossword puzzle or reading the newspaper. He appears not much different than any regular, but he is, in his generosity.
Each day, Jim will ask the servers whether they are having lunch. If they are, it goes on his tab. It’s a gesture that is much appreciated.
And, if he sees someone he knows, or recognizes, he will surprise them by sending some of the Ekos baklava over to their table for dessert – on him. He loves baklava.
And if he has received good service from his doctor, chiropractor, optometrist, accountant, insurance agent or really any business in town, he’ll call them and find out what they want for dinner. Ekos will deliver that, on Jim’s tab. Many nights he has dinner brought to families in their homes.
They say, “You don’t have to do that,” but he wants to.
And this magnanimity goes on, day after day. To the Ekos staff, it appears as though Jim likes to surprise just about anybody by buying them something tasty to eat, like he’s picking names at random out of the phone book, but he says it’s not quite that arbitrary.
“It’s people I know, who’ve been good to me over the years,” he explains.
So when did he win the lottery?
He shakes his head.
“I’m not rich or anything, I just feel … I just want to do it.”
Jim is a postal worker who had a 50-year career with Canada Post, about the last 35 years in Abbotsford. At 72, he still has a route of community mail boxes. He starts when most people are still in bed, works almost a full day, and is done in time to take up his position at Ekos for lunch.
He staked out that table a long time ago, back to when it was Barney’s Beach Hut, even during the brief time it had a French name, and even way back to when it was the House on the Hill Restaurant. It has changed hands five times, and Jim has always been part of the deal.
“I’m in my own corner. I just want to sit down, relax and do my crossword,” he said. “It’s my home away from home. It’s my watering hole.”
Owner Terry Mankatala said he has enjoyed Jim’s company for the four years he has been the proprietor of Ekos.
“He’s just a helpful person – a happy person.”