From Struggling Immigrant to Thriving Restaurant Owner

From Struggling Immigrant to Thriving Restaurant Owner

From Struggling Immigrant to Thriving Restaurant Owner

Giorgos Papadopoulos arrived in New York from Greece in the early 90s with only a small sack of personal belongings and not a penny to his name but with dreams of owning his own restaurant and sharing his culinary gift with New Yorkers.
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Giorgos had a rare talent for combining tastes and creating culinary masterpieces, but he spoke no English, had no education, no money, and knew he would have to build toward his dream starting at the very rock bottom.

He took a job as a dishwasher in a brick, old Italian restaurant that was struggling for both patrons and help and there with shear determination held to a consistant day-in-and-day-out grind working to realize what he had come to this country to accomplish.

It was there that for 5 years sleeping in the attic over the restaurant, working double shifts and living on leftovers that Giorgos saved every penny he made until he had enough money to buy the restaurant outright from the present owner.

And after 5 years those even though the restaurant was struggling and its owner, Mario, was tired and ready to call it quits, he was still stubborn about selling out to his dishwasher who lived in the attic. But in the end, facing bankruptcy, Mario had no choice but to sell out to Giorgos.

Purchasing the restaurant did not magically change Giorgos’ situation; though he had risen from dishwasher to business owner overnight, the restaurant was still struggling and without adequate money to pay essential overhead costs Giorgos had to continue working double shifts.

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One key difference was that dishwasher Giorgos was now Chef Giorgos, and it was primarily through his ability to achieve a special, unique Hellenic taste paired with hard work that he was determined to turn his business around. He began by entirely revamping the menu swapping out the Italian foods for Greek cuisine with a focus on fresh seafood. The restaurant became a culinary journey through Greece embodying the true flavors from some of the the earliest culinary delights.

But Giorgos’ patronage grew at a painstakingly slow pace, and a major problem posed by hinging his business’s growth on the factor of unique taste meant that he had to do much of the food preparation himself. So for years Giorgos kept the ingredients and preparations of his marinades and sauces secret from anyone by staying up after closing hours to prepare the sauces and marinades for his award-winning meats and seafoods.

9 years after Giorgos’ arrival in New York, having spent 5 years as a dishwasher and another 4 as a struggling owner building his restaurant’s reputation and client base, with a head half-full of white hairs, Giorgos finally achieved the dream he had been determined to see through since his arrival in New York in his early 30s.

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The good news for Culinary Artists attempting to open a successful restaurant today is that they do not have to struggle the same way Giorgos did—don’t have to live in an attic, or wash dishes, or wait 9 years, or run from festival to festival winning competitions to build business based strictly on culinary mastery. In 2020 modern technology makes it possible to achieve what took Giorgos 9 years in a matter of weeks using tools and instruments that make it possible for restaurant owners to focus on what matters to them and their customers most: great food and customer service.

With SEO optimization, the foot traffic that took Giorgos years to start tiptoeing into his restaurant can now be achieved in something more akin to stampedes in a matter of weeks. In fact, a restaurant can appear in front of thousands of hungry patrons just by typing a few key words into Google.

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The positive reviews that Giorgos acquired by winning food festival contests to promote his restaurant with can now be accumulated quickly and efficiently with special tools and incentives, for example, a website tool that notifies recent patrons about loyalty perks for leaving reviews such as discount coupons off their next meal.

From Online Reservation Tools that help owners book full restaurants weeks or months in advance giving owners piece of mind and their staff accurate, efficient table management, to Interactive Online Menus that help patrons pick their meal time, table, and entrees so that when they arrive they can simply sit down with no wait or fuss and have their hot custom entrees waiting for them… with modern technology the sky and imagination are the only limits to growth.

We appreciate the effort of our Greeek friend Giorgos and we are happy that present day culinary artists who dream about owning a successful restaurant do not have to sacrifice and suffer for years as he did to realize their dreams. There is now a better way.

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