John's Little Place
affectionately called  "Luigi's"
208½ - 33rd Street, Newport News, VA 23607


John's Little Place "Luigi's"


In answer to Terry Seay's ('67 - of TN) question, I remember it being only ten coathangers to get in, but the wonderful red dyed hotdogs 2/25 cents were from "Little John's" around the corner from the Paramount Theater.  YUM! 

- Sheila Smith Moler ('64) of FL - 10/25/07
Thanks, Sheila!

Over on 33rd Street, we find John’s Little Place (remembered as Little John’s) at 208½-33rd. This location was just behind the Bank of Hampton Roads on the corner of Washington and 33rd. It was owned by John and Helen Neofitou, who resided at 325-58th Street. Some quick research found that John (b. 1903; d. 8 Jan 1992 NNVA) and Eleni/Helen (b. 1909; d. Dec 1971 NNVA) Neofitou arrived in New York from Cherbourg France on 25 April 1928 aboard the vessel Olympic. Just beyond John’s Little Place was the Paramount Florist at 210-33rd.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/08/07
Thanks so much, Dave!

Memories! Thank you for that research on eating places close to the school...Mrs. Helen Neofitou lived next door to my family on 58th Street. I was a very, very thin girl at the time-- I weighed 65 lbs. when I started 9th grade and was up to 89 or 90, I think, by the time I graduated from NNHS. (I hit 110 in graduate school).  I had the metabolism of a hummingbird (wish I did now!)  Mrs. Neofitou thought I wasn't eating enough. I ate like a little pig-- where was it downtown that had the German's Chocolate Cake, all those layers with the coconut-pecan frosting, available by the slice? My mother fed me big breakfasts, and big snacks, and packed me big lunches, and yet I detoured to get a slice of cake before going home after school... and Mrs. Neofitou would nab me as I got off the bus, calling from her porch--stuffing me with those wonderful fried pastries with honey, or baklava, or crescent cookies covered in powdered sugar.  She could not understand that I didn't like figs, "Fussy eater! "  If I stopped by the shop downtown to say hello I got handed three hot dogs with everything on them, and she was insulted if I didn't finish every bite and equally insulted if I tried to pay for them, because we were neighbors. 

- Domi O'Brien ('64) of NH - 11/09/07
Thanks, Domi!

While thumbing thru my copy of the 1948 Anchor,
a name jumped off the page at me - "Neofitou."

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/17/07
WOWZERS!!! Thanks, Dave! 

I remember a tiny little place where we bought hot dogs ... Think it was called Luigi's ... they were THE BEST!!

- Alice Fowler Edwards ('64) of VA - 10/26/07
Thanks, Alice!

Just my two-cents worth, Terry Seay ('67 TN) mentioned "Little John's" and Alice Fowler Edwards ('64 VA) noted she remembered "Luigi's." Don't remember the name of the bistro on the corner of 33rd and Washington Avenue, next to the Paramount Theater, maybe that was "Little John's?"

But who could forget Luigi's, next to the florist shop and immediately behind the Bank of Hampton Roads. Seems to me there were days when Luigi's had five hot dogs for a quarter. He cooked them in the front window and we all crammed into the little nooks to throw them down with a splash of bottled Coca-Cola. It was in and out, and a dash of "Texas Pete," still a staple in my pantry.

- Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 10/29/07
Thanks, Norm!

I looked at NN Hill’s Directories from 1957 to 1967 and could find no listing for a Luigi’s, despite Norm Covert’s vivid recollection of it being located “next to the florist shop and immediately behind the Bank of Hampton Roads.” As you will soon see, that was the location of another remembered eatery.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/08/07
Thanks so much, Dave!

In response to Dave Spriggs ('64 - of VA) and his search for Luigi's, Norm Covert ('61 - of MD) is not the only one who has a vivid memory of Luigi's.  It was certainly there on 33rd Street in the 50's, especially between '55 and '59.  You need to go back and research again!!  Surely there is a record somewhere.

- Renee Helterbran Benton ('59) of VA - 11/09/07
Thanks, Renee!

Well, Renee is not going to like this report.  We seem to have one of the agonizing mysteries which appear from time to time:  People with vivid recollections and no documentary evidence to support them.

At the Hilton Library, I looked at Hill’s Directories from 1950-1960, except for 1953, which they do not have. In none of them could I find a listing for a Luigi’s. I looked in the alphabetical listings, then in the street address listings … nada.  I looked in the only telephone directory they had from the 50’s (1958); no Luigi’s. As Renee and Norm seemed so certain that Luigi’s was located just behind the Paramount and next to the flower shop, I recorded the businesses at that location on 33rd Street from 1950-1960 (less 1953).

1950:   208 ½  Brooks Antiques / 210 Paramount Florists    

1951:   208 ½  was not listed / 210 Paramount Florist 

1952:   208 ½  Mac’s Place (Mac Thomas) /  210  Paramount Florist

1954:   208 ½  Mike’s  Place / 210  Paramount Florist
1955:   208 ½  Mike’s Place /  210  Paramount Florist
1956:   208 ½  Mike’s Place /  210  Paramount Florist

1957:   208 ½  Mike’s Place /  210  Paramount Florist

1958:   208 ½  Mike’s Place /  210  Paramount Florist

1959:   208 ½  John’s Little Place /  210  Paramount Florist

1960:   208 ½  John’s Little Place /   210  Paramount Florist

There is truly a mystery here, with at least three Typhoons remembering Luigi’s.
I trust that someone will have the answer.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/10/07
Thanks again, Dave!

Personally - and I have absolutely NO memory of any of these places, so bear in mind that this is NOT an expert opinion, I'm beginning to wonder if Luigi's and John's Little Place might not be one and the same.  As a case in point, the Stuart Gardens variety shop was officially named Bernard's.  I knew not a soul who called it anything but Minnie's - as might be obvious from the conversations on this page:

- Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 11/10/07

To add some more to the mystery of Luigi’s, I have a 1946 and a 1955 Newport News phone book with no mention of Luigi’s in either one. Of course, back in those days, not every place had a business phone. Some of the mom & pop places just had a pay phone on the wall or a booth in the corner. Wish I could be of more help.

- Mike Leonard (68) of VA - 11/11/07
Thanks, Mike!

As Dave (Spriggs - '64 - of VA) says, the Directory may list 209-1/2 33rd Street as Mac's or Mike's Place, but from 1952 to 1956 most of us that ate there called the place and the owner "Luigi" and he never complained or told us otherwise. I remember 3 hot dogs with chili and onions for 25 cents that left me enough lunch money to go to the chocolate malt shop at 35th and Washington or to the Florida Orange Store bakery for their great cinnamon rolls for desert.

Just remembering  "Old Times" like this makes me all the more grateful for all that You do to keep NNHS and Newport News as it was then fresh in all our minds.

Thank You.  

- Bruce Sims ('56) of VA - 11/11/07
Oh, my goodness - I was actually right!  No such official name existed; the two hot dog stands are one and the same!

   As Kathy Pilgrim Clark ('63) used to say, "Bruce knows practically everything about the Peninsula." She was right, as usual.
Another mystery solved! Thanks so much, Bruce!

OK. Yes, my Medicare card came in the mail last week and my children sometimes believe that I have early onset of Alzheimer's, but Luigi's? My recent heart problems may date back to those wonderful tube steaks from the guy I always thought was Luigi. Paramount Florist? Yes. Had thought originally that might be Evelyn Coleman Florist, both of whom had those great Mum corsages with the little blue "N" for sale prior to our Turkey game with Hampton High (not for me smarty!).

I've pondered my "vivid memories" since Dave's (Spriggs - '64 - of VA) report and tried to put them in context with lots of historical/genealogical research I've done over the years. Sometimes anecdotal evidence trumps the city directory. I don't remember us being politically correct on some things in those days and guess none of us really understood that calling Mike or Little John "Luigi" might have been by today's standards an ethnic slur. As  Bruce (Sims - '56 - of VA) so aptly puts it, the owner "never complained." He just kept rolling out the Dawgs and Texas Pete. 

Dave has indeed told me something I didn't know and I appreciate his effort to find the answer.  Here's a trivia question for you, Dave: How come we had so many lovely young ladies in the yMca on 32nd street? One answer might be, that we only had "lovely young ladies."

- Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 11/11/07
GIGGLES!!! Thanks, Norm!

 Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.
     That is what I'd truly like to be,
     'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,
     Everyone would be in love with me.

(This page was created on 11/09/07.)

"Oscar Mayer Wiener" jingle courtesy of,
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/24/04 with the technical assistance of my son, Nathaniel Harty of IL - 01/26/04
Thanks, Dave and Nathaniel!

"Oscar Mayer Wiener" jingle lyrics courtesy of - 01/24/04

Long Hot Dog clip art courtesy of - 02/24/04

Animated Cheering Smiley clip art courtesy of Al Farber ('64) of GA - 08/18/05
Thanks, Al!

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