CINCINNATI – They said Chris Beltsos always made them feel at home, so customers came to Price Hill Chili, a West Side landmark, to remember him.
"Everyone knows Price Hill Chili is the heart of Western Hills and he was the heart of Price Hill Chili," said Natalie Moore.
Beltsos, who helped his two big brothers run the iconic restaurant on Glenway Avenue, died Thursday at 47 after battling cancer.
While the family huddled together, sharing memories of Chris, customers and his sister-in-law spoke about his kindness, humor and generosity.
Kay Rembold, who has come to the restaurant for 40 years with her husband, called Chris' death a huge loss to the community.
Moore and Janis Cupito watched Chris grow from boyhood to manhood.
"He'd push in our chairs for us when we sat down. He just made you comfortable and made you feel that you belonged here and that's true of the whole family," Cupito said.
"He was always extremely great with my kids when they were little. Carted them everywhere like they were his own," said his sister-in-law, Kanda Beltsos.
Chris even hosted Christmas at the restaurant for neighborhood families, she said.
"He started Christmas up here (for) all the families around that didn't have anywhere to go because they didn't have Christmas with their families that night. He would buy gifts for all the kids not knowing who was going to be here or who wasn't going to be here.
"There's a huge hole in our hearts," she said.
Visitation is Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Meyer & Geiser Funeral Home, 4989 Glenway Ave. The funeral is Monday at 11 a.m. at Holy Trinity-Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 7000 Winton Road. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to UC Health (Kidney Cancer Research) 3200 Burnet Ave, 45229 or www.uchealth.com.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Beltsos helped his big brothers run the restaurant after their father passed away. Beltsos' father is alive. WCPO regrets this error.