The owner of one of New England’s most famous pint of clams has died after a brief illness, her family confirmed Thursday.
Marina “Chickie” Aggelakis, who owned the Clam Box in Ipswich, renowned for its building shaped like an open pint of clams, died Monday of cancer, her family said. She was 70.
Aggelakis was diagnosed in early July with a cancer that advanced rapidly, according to her daughter-in-law, Johanna Pechilis Aggelakis, who is married to Aggelakis’s only child, Dimitri Aggelakis.
“It was a very, very quick metastatic cancer,” Pechilis Aggelakis said in a phone interview. “The last few days, we knew, as I think any loved one would going through this. We were just grateful to have her home. . . . She passed away with grace.”
Aggelakis died at her home, where she had been for the past two weeks, and was surrounded by family, Pechilis Aggelakis said. She had seen the end coming.
“She knew, but she was so, so strong throughout the whole thing,” Pechilis Aggelakis said. “She just kept saying how accomplished she was, and how proud she was of her son, my husband, who she basically groomed to run the business.”
Aggelakis was “an icon” in the region, her daughter-in-law said. And for countless locals and tourists who counted meals at the Clam Box as a treasured summer ritual, Aggelakis’s broad grin was a necessary part of the experience.
Aggelakis’s cousin, Nick Pappas, said she “was a very great lady,” who put in 12 hours a day at the Clam Box for decades.
“She hired me when I was 15 years old at the Clam Box,” Pappas said. “She was my first boss, and a great one at that, too. She worked me really hard, and she made me who I am.”
Aggelakis worked as a buyer for Jordan Marsh before she and her husband Theodore entered the restaurant business by opening three locations of Chick’s Roast Beef in Ipswich, Gloucester, and Bradford, according to a death notice written by Pechilis Aggelakis.
The couple bought The Clam Box in the mid-1980s, and Aggelakis soon became involved with the community, once being “honored by the Ipswich Rotary Club with the Person of the Year Award for exemplifying the Rotary ideal of service above self to her community,” according to the notice.