‘He was one in a million’: Tributes paid to popular Eastbourne man

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Tributes have been paid to a popular restaurant owner from Eastbourne who died this week.

Michael Cosma, 81, died on March 2 surrounded by his family after a short battle with cancer, according to his daughter Katerina Tutt.

Katerina said, “His family cared for him in his last days with the help of the fantastic, kind staff at St Wilfrid’s Hospice.”

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For the last 20 years Michael lived with his daughter and her children, something Katerina said ‘he absolutely loved as he was a very family orientated man’.

Michael Cosma SUS-210403-110306001Michael Cosma SUS-210403-110306001
Michael Cosma SUS-210403-110306001

He was the owner of the Qualisea fish and chip restaurant which first opened in 1968 after coming to Eastbourne from Cyrus in 1959 aged 20. Michael couldn’t speak a word of English but with ‘hard work and determination he created his small empire’, according to a post from Qualisea Fish Restaurant.

Qualisea started out on Junction Road and he ran it with his wife Hannah, known to many as Anne.

The couple met in The Athens restaurant in Eastbourne, got married and had two children – Katerina and Cosma.

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Katerina said, “They became a formidable team and were both very hard workers.”

Photo from Katerina Tutt SUS-210403-131124001Photo from Katerina Tutt SUS-210403-131124001
Photo from Katerina Tutt SUS-210403-131124001

Hannah passed away in 2003.

The statement from Qualisea said, “Due to his incredible work ethic and his passion for fish and chips he built it up to be a roaring success and became a very prominent figure in the Eastbourne business community, a town he loved so much.”

Qualisea eventually moved to Terminus Road which is where it can still be found now and is run by Katerina and her husband Phil.

The statement from Qualisea said, “His proudest achievement was that his shop was the first ever fish and chip shop to get a mention in the Egon Ronay ‘Good Food Guide’.

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Michael Cosma SUS-210403-110317001Michael Cosma SUS-210403-110317001
Michael Cosma SUS-210403-110317001

“Even after he retired from the restaurant, he could still be seen having a coffee most mornings, keeping an eye on everything. He would run into customers everywhere he went and became friends with the majority of them and is still remembered fondly to this day.

“He had the most incredible work ethic and his legacy will live on through the business he created. He will always be the heart and soul of the Qualisea.”

Katerina said, “He was a kind gentleman who was a hard worker his whole life. He was a very well respected member of the Greek Cypriot community in Eastbourne and nobody ever had a bad word to say about him.

“He was very humble and generous and would help out anyone if he could. His priority was always his family and wanted the best for them. He was one in a million.”

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Photo from Katerina Tutt SUS-210403-131135001Photo from Katerina Tutt SUS-210403-131135001
Photo from Katerina Tutt SUS-210403-131135001

She said Michael loved meeting up with friends to have coffee, enjoyed betting with friends and went to The Greek Orthodox Church every Sunday.

Katerina said, “He loved spending time with his grandchildren and taking the dog for walks on the seafront and in Hampden park. He loved sitting on Terminus Road in the mornings having a coffee with friends and speaking to traders.

“Even through retirement, he never lost his interest or passion for the business.”

Katerina said the family are sad there is a limit of 30 people at the funeral because they know so many people would love to pay their respects but they’re hoping to arrange a memorial later this year when restrictions allow it.