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Mar. 30—Harry Salavantis co-owned a world-famous race horse, but he was better known locally for owning a Pittston City diner, the Majestic Lunch.
Salavantis, of Kingston Twp., died Friday from complications of COVID-19. He was 71.
Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo said the diner was a legendary establishment.
"It's one of the best kept secrets in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It's a throw back in time. It's one of those iconic things. Every city should have one," Lombardo said. "They have an old price board on the wall. I think hamburgers were a quarter. Their chili dogs are the best in the world and I've sampled chili dogs all over the world."
Salavantis's obituary says he "moved to the Pittston area in 1954 after Harry was kidnapped by a man posing as an uncle and was soon found in a nearby park."
It's a story some of the closest Salavantis family friends say they were never told.
Salavantis "learned from his parents the ideals of family and hard work that impacted the rest of his life, ideals he passed on to his own family and friends throughout the years," his obituary says.
Harry Salavantis was among the Northeast Pennsylvania owners of the race horse "Tiz the Law," which won the Belmont Stakes in 2020, one of the three Triple Crown races.
Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said he had lunch with Salavantis three weeks ago.
Harry Salavantis is the father of Sanguedolce's predecessor, former Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.
Sangueodolce said Harry Salavantis, who also was a real estate developer and owner of the popular gas station, "It's A Life Saver" in Shavertown, was a very successful businessman but a private guy.
He became notable after helping fund his daughter's campaign for district attorney in 2011 — a move that was successful after her upset win at age 29.
"He always said, 'What a better investment to make than to make an investment in my daughter,'" Sanguedolce said. "It was a very successful investment."
Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Emeritus Correale Stevens, a former Luzerne County district attorney, said Harry Salavantis was "full of life" and always was "respectful and courteous."
"My heart goes out to Stefanie and her family," Stevens said. "She has a new baby and she's running for higher office. My heart goes out to her."
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