News In Brief

Man behind New York’s Greek coffee cup dies at 87

Melissa Kaplan Apr 30, 2010

If you’re grabbing a coffee in the Big Apple, raise a cup to Leslie Buck. The 87-year-old paper-cup company executive and Holocaust survivor, who died Monday of complications from Parkinson’s Disease, was responsible for what is perhaps one of New York’s most understated icons: the Anthora, a.k.a. the Greek coffee cup.

Marketplace Morning Report Host Steve Chiotakis grew up around his family’s diner businesses in Gary, Ind. and Birmingham, Ala. He had some fond memories attached to the iconic Greek cup.

Born Laszlo Büch on Sept. 20, 1922 in the former Czechoslovakia, Buck came to the U.S. after surviving Auschwitz and Buchenwald and started a paper cup company with his brother, Eugene. Buck went on to join Sherri Cup in the mid-60’s and worked his way up to director of marketing.

Buck wanted to make it in the New York cup scene, and ran with an idea of pitching a blue-and-white cup to the city’s diners, most of which were owned by Greeks, to emulate the Greek flag. Though he had no formal art training, his design — which was a tribute to classical Greek style including three golden coffee cups and the words “We are happy to serve you” — became an instant success. His sales commissions over the years made up for the fact that he made no royalties on his creation — not to mention the design becoming a prime piece of New York nostalgia.

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