Whenever I’m asked how many siblings I have (or “brothers and sisters,” since no one actually uses the word siblings) I always tell people two: my brother, Pano, and my sister, Maria. But sometimes I think I should say three and include my other sibling, Grecian Gyro. It may sound silly, but we do have the same parents, and we grew up together. Not to spark a debate on corporate personhood, but if Grecian Gyro were a person, he (or she) would be my younger brother (or sister– I’m not quite sure of the gender of my corporate sibling).
Grecian Gyro was born in 1982 when I was only 1½ years old. For as long as I remember, my dad, Nick Koulouris, has owned the little Hapeville restaurant with Atlanta’s Best Gyro and long lines running out the door. I’m a quintessential “restaurant brat” (the culinary counter-part to a “military brat”), as I basically grew up in the restaurant. Sure, we had a home, but I spent most of my childhood playing in the dining room booths with my brother, or working in the kitchen (or an idyllic combination of the two).
Some of my first memories are of spending early summer mornings with my dad, shopping for fresh produce at the farmers market, then helping him make the salads before the store opened. To this day, I can still picture my dad, towering over me, as I watched him make his famous secret sauce by hand, gallon by gallon.
I got my first “real” job at Grecian Gyro when I was 13. By the end of that summer, I was a master at taking phone orders and making fountain drinks for customers. Over time I learned all the ins-and-outs of the restaurant business. My grandfather, Pete, who was the champion “Wrap Artist,” taught me the nuances of wrapping a perfect gyro, while my dad showed me how to run the grill and serve a busy crowd during a lunchtime rush. Soon, my brother Pano joined the team and the two of us were getting into everything, and competing over silly things like who could hand cut potatoes faster. Who knew that all that time we were actually training for our future careers?
Like many siblings who have spent this much time together, Grecian Gyro and I have had a great ride –lots of good times and laughs, some ups and downs, and even a little sibling rivalry. But now, having finally grown up, it seems that just as with my “other” brother, Pano, we’re a natural team…
These memories … this practically pre-ordained life … are the things I reflect upon on the eve of the next phase of Grecian Gyro. I feel like one of Fringe’s Observers … standing in a moment of timelessness, simultaneously reflecting on the past as we look toward the future.
Pano and I have spent the past four years planning and developing the Grecian Gyro Franchise expansion. And this year, as dad’s “little-gyro-shop-that-could” turns 30 years old, our family is growing! We are thrilled to be celebrating the sale of our first Grecian Gyro franchise location in John’s Creek (opening later this year).This is an exciting time for our dad, our customers, our growing family of Franchisees, and my three siblings: Pano, Maria and Grecian Gyro.
If you’ve never been to a Greek celebration, stay tuned for my Big Greek Family’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, destined to last all year long!